Baker Lake, located south of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan offers a pleasant trail along its east side - perfect for a one or two night backpack shuttle hike.
Last Saturday, with almost blue skies, the Maple Grove campground along the Baker Lake trail was selected as our destination of choice due to its lack of snow, likelihood of solitude and limited elevation gain.
Not holding our breath for dry weather, Rachel, Steve and canine Rudy arrived in time for a 9:30am departure.
The trail head is located at the south end of the lake, just a mile or so beyond the Baker dam. It's easy to find, but parking is limited to about 15 cars or so. When we arrived we were surprised to find 10 vehicles already in place.
Similar to my visit from five years ago (trip #13), the Baker Lake trail has an abundance of green. The filtered sunlight cast us in a bright springtime shade of lime.
The trail descends slowly down toward the lake, crossing numerous small stream on sturdy trail bridges. Ferns along the first half mile of the trail were still flatter than a flitter after being pressed under a winter load of snow. No doubt they'll spring up quickly but the snow must have been lingering here until just a short while ago.
The trail remains a hundred or two hundred feet above the lake until you reach Anderson Creek. At Anderson Creek you'll find a cockeyed but sturdy log bridge in place that will enable you to keep your feet dry as you cross. It even has a wire handrail - but most people will have to stoop down a bit to use it.
Also at Anderson Creek you can (currently) view where the bank has slid away, allowing massive cedar trees to drop down to the creek level.
With a little hands and feet action, it is possible to make your way down to the lake at the creek crossing. Instead of doing that, we opted to continue along the trail another 1/10th of a mile to a side trail which leads to the first campground. The trail was clear until just before the campsites where a huge tree has fallen parallel to and basically on top of the trail. A footpath is beginning to be made around it and shortly thereafter you'll find an easy access point to the lake shore.
We stopped here for pictures, a snack and for those of us with four-paw-drive, a swim.
Our intended destination is the point of land on the right side.
Rudy, with Mt. Baker in the background:
The trail remained green. Flowers also decided to make a periodic appearance.
Rudy was still going strong.
We eventually returned to the main trail and continued northward to the second camping area which is the Maple Grove Campground.
Time for lunch - but not where we could smell the skunk.
You can see that the trail rises higher above the lake than what is indicated on the topo map.
Took some videos while at the Maple Grove campground. they aren't ready yet, but I'll post them in the near future. In the meantime, here is a panorama from the south (left) to the north (right). You might get a better view if you click on the picture (but no promises).
Finally we began the long trek back. Basically, it was the same as on the way in, except a little more uphill, the dog was a little bit less energetic, a little more skittish and pretty entertaining.
Crossing Anderson Creek the second time:
Returned to the car without incident.
Round trip was about 8.75 miles and a cumulative elevation gain (due to the ups and downs) of more than 1,200 feet (it felt like less).
Stopped at the Skagit River Brewery in downtown Mt. Vernon for a fantastic tasting beer and some awesome grub that really hit the spot! Highly recommended by all three of us, FWIW.
This is a great trail for hikers of all ages and abilities.