Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mt. Baker's Skyline Divide 08-04-2012

Skyline Divide on the perimeter of Mount Baker is one of the most spectacular day hikes available off the Mount Baker Hwy (Hwy 542).

There are a few factors that make this such an excellent hike:
  • 360 degree views (provided you chose a sunny day) offer an unbelievable horizon to capture your interest all day long.
  • Millions of flowers (in season)
  • Miles and miles of ridges to explore at your hearts content
  • It's just 1.75 miles to probably the finest 'picnic heaven' (the 1,500 feet of elevation gain will quickly be forgotten).  From there you can soak in the scenery or continue hiking to other high points and vistas.

Unfortunately, with all those rewards there are a few minor downsides:  this trail is very popular so the last thing to expect is solitude.  The only other downside is the 12 mile gravel road drive to the trail head (but it beats a 12 mile hike instead).

It was hard to choose 'just a few' of my favorite pictures for this report.

Many of these pictures include portions of the trail along the top of a ridge.  If you click on the image to view the larger size then you can probably spot other hikers on the trail... they really help add perspective to the grand scope of the panoramas. 

Conditions during my visit were nearly perfect - and greatly appreciated since my only previous visit (five years ago) included a lot of low hanging clouds which only allowed periodic hints at what surrounded us. 

If I was a little faster at photo editing I would have added a few peak labels, but for now you'll get to do that research on your own.

Here is my route map for the day.  Approx. 9 miles and 2,500 feet of gain.  The ridge does have a number of ups and downs, but it is so worth it!

The trail head is located by traveling east on Hwy 542 from Bellingham to just a short distance from the little town of Glacier.  Just beyond Glacier is the Forest Service office (bathrooms plus a chance to buy a Forest Pass for parking if you don't have one) and then you'll take a right turn onto Glacier Creek Road.  Take the first left and follow the road to its end at the trail head.  The gravel road is about 12 miles long and narrow in spots, but it is in relatively good condition and should be passable by virtually any car that isn't a low-rider.

Happy Hiking!


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