What To Do Around Mount Baker


Mount Baker is a beautiful place to visit. The snowy peaks and stunning views alone are enough of a reason to visit ‒ but the mountain is far from the only thing worth checking out in the area. There are dozens of amazing attractions with visiting nearby. 

Whether you’re actively planning a trip to Mount Baker area or just considering one, this list of popular and interesting attractions should give you a better idea of what there is to do around the famous mountain.

Outdoor Attractions

Because the area that surrounds Mount Baker is almost entirely composed of forests, mountains, and lakes, most of the things to do around Mount Baker involve being outdoors. While there are hundreds of trails, lakes, and peaks you can choose to visit, the following list is comprised of the most beautiful places available. 

Table Mountain

While Mount Baker is the premier peak in the area, Table Mountain is another beautiful destination located just a few miles away. One of the more impressive parts of the Columbia River Gorge, you can view over 22 million years of sediment history just by looking at the sheared 800-foot south face. 

One of the best reasons to choose a trek up Table Mountain over some of the other nearby hikes is the gorgeous view it provides of The Bridge Of The Gods ‒ the remnants of a centuries-old landslide that took a large piece of Table Mountain down with it. The name was given to the rock by the indigenous people in the area, who used it to cross the Columbia River. 

In addition to the famous “Bridge”, a trip to the peak of Table Mountain will also provide stunning views of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and a variety of other picturesque peaks. You’ll also get a terrific view of the vast pine forests that populate the area surrounding Mount Baker.  

Lake Ann Trail

Hiking the Lake Ann Trail is an excellent way to take in the Mount Baker sites without actually climbing the mountain. The scenery along this trail is particularly varied and unique. Along the way to Lake Ann, you’ll walk through an alpine basin, seemingly barren boulder fields, meadows filled to the brim with wildflowers, and many other beautiful scenes of nature. 

The lake itself is situated in a rocky basin. Once you’re at the lake, you can enjoy some breathtaking views of Mount Shuksan, Curtis Glacier, and Mount Baker. There’s a chance you’ll be able to hear ice falling down the side of Mount Shuksan. 

As it’s a relatively easy trail with access to a pristine lake, this hiking spot can often get rather crowded. If you’re looking for a spot with a bit more solitude, you should consider another location. 

The Lake Ann Trail is also an excellent place to camp overnight. There are quite a few choice camping locations with unobstructed views of the mesmerizing Washington night sky. If you do spend a night under the stars, just remember that the trail doesn’t have a trash cleanup service. Make sure that everything you bring in with you needs to leave with you too. 

Twin Lakes

If you want access to the pristine atmosphere of Lake Ann without the hiking, Twin Lakes is an excellent alternative. Situated at 5,200 feet above sea level, these lakes are an incredible sight to behold. If you’d like a vantage point that sits you right next to both lakes, there’s a thin strip of pine-strewn land that separates the two bodies of water. A road also leads right up to the lakes, making it an excellent place for a day out with the kids or a leisurely picnic. 

There are also some basic campground sites with picnic tables, fire-rings, and platforms for tent pitching. If you do want to camp out by the lakeside, make sure to get there early so you can grab one of the platforms. Because the Twin Lakes are easily accessible by car, they are a pretty a popular spot for camping. 

On top of the camping and picturesque lakeside views, the Twin Lakes also offer useful proximity to some incredible trails, including the Silesia Creek Trail, Winchester Mountain Trail, and High Pass Trail. 

A word of caution: if you don’t have a car with high clearance or all-wheel drive, making it all the way to the lake will be difficult. Many people who don’t have suitable vehicles park their cars at the Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead and Trailhead and walk the remaining distance to the lakes. 

Picture Lake

Easily accessible from the Mount Baker Highway, camera wielders and casual spectators alike love stopping for the breathtaking reflection Mount Shuksan casts off of Picture Lake’s surface. And Picture Lake certainly lives up to its name, providing the perfect foreground element for photographers looking to capture the majestic peaks of the Cascade mountain range. 

Picture Lake is also a popular parking spot for the Mount Baker Ski Area and folks heading to the famed Artist Point. If you want, you can make the most of your trip to Picture Lake by combining your visit with a day of skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing.

Though it can be hard to time this, try going when the wind is at a standstill. The mirror image of Mount Shuksan cast off of the lake’s calm surface is a once in a lifetime spectacle. 

Heather Meadows

The Heather Meadows are another popular stop off on the Mount Baker Highway. Filled with huckleberry and heather, these meadows are accented by meandering paths, small lakes, and somewhat hilly terrain. Mountain hemlock trees that have been alive for nearly 1,000 years dot the landscape, and the remains of Mount Baker lava flows are visible in some areas. 

For those interested in the history of the beauty, the Heather Meadows Visitor Center provides some background into the area’s cultural background. Situated on a rock ledge overlooking the Bagley Lakes, the building is made of rock and heavy timber ‒ partially to withstand the elements, and partially to help it blend into the natural scenery. You can purchase books, maps, federal recreation passes, and other items that will help you navigate the area. 

If you do want to visit the center, it’s only open from mid-July to late September ‒ so make sure you visit Mount Baker during the summer season. 

Chain Lakes Loop Trail

If you’re looking for a hike with a little bit of everything, the Chain Lakes Loop Trail is definitely one to consider. It has views of both Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, a variety of beautiful swimmable lakes, and blueberry bushes lining the well-kept path. 

As the name suggests, this trail is a closed loop. Walking in one direction will eventually bring you back to your starting point, making this 8 mile trek simple to navigate. 

Mount Baker Vineyards and Winery

Wine connoisseurs will find visiting the Mount Baker Vineyards and Winery a necessity. Locally owned and operated, this award winning winery has been serving visitors to the Mount Baker area for almost 30 years. 

Specializing in northern whites and champagne-style wines, this winery offers a stunning view of the Sisters Mountains from the back deck. You’ll also get to look at the vineyard in which the grapes in your wine are grown, which is a pretty cool experience. The wine from these grapes is also served at the restaurant in the Seattle Space Needle ‒ it’ll be pretty cool to tell your friends that you got to experience the source of the wine served at such a famous location. 

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM, the Mount Baker Winery offers free tasting all year round. Picnic tables and isolated sitting areas are available for small groups, making this a great place for a date or family outing. 

Salmon Ridge Sno-Park

The Salmon Ridge Sno-Park is a groomed trail system near the Mount Baker Ski Area. Boasting over 15 miles of groomed trails, skiers and snowshoers alike will find it an excellent spot for a day of hiking and riding. Snowshoers aren’t actually allowed on the groomed tracks, but are free to walk alongside them. 

All routes start off with a view of the North Fork Nooksack River. From there, they enter a quiet, dense forest of hemlock, fir, and cedar trees. 

A word of caution: The Sno-Park is situated at about 2,000 feet of elevation, which is pretty low for the Mount Baker area. Avalanches are always a risk when you’re near snow-covered mountains, and this is especially the case when you’re in a low elevation area. Before going to the Sno-Park, call the Glacier Public Service Center at (360) 599-2714 to check on the snow condition and likelihood of an avalanche.

Also, you do need a Washington State Sno-Park pass to park at the Salmon Ridge Sno-Park. Be sure to visit the permit site and pick one up before leaving your car in the parking area. 

North Cascades Institute

For those interested in exploring and learning about the nature and culture of the Pacific Northwest, the North Cascades Institute is definitely a place to consider visiting. 

One of the highlights of this fascinating location is the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. A trip to this 16-building facility will give you the opportunity to learn from a bunch of awesome resources, including:

  • A research library containing books about all sorts of natural and cultural information 
  • Aquatic and terrestrial labs where you can observe fun nature-based experiments. 
  • Outdoor learning shelters for an educational experience right in the forest 
  • Many scenic trails in the surrounding woods. 
  • A boat dock on nearby Diablo Lake for canoeing and kayaking. 

While the facilities are exciting, the main draws of the Learning Center are the hundreds of educational courses and experiences offered throughout the year. Here are some of the most popular options:

Base Camp Course

The Base Camp course is a multi-night camping and hiking experience in the heart of the Lake Diablo area. Lodgings include comfortably furnished indoor rooms, and you’ll get three meals per day made from local and organic ingredients. 

Some of the fun activities Base Camp attendees get access to include:

  • A birding walk in which you’ll learn all about the basics of birding. Some of the topics covered include proper binocular use, sound mapping, and exploring bird anatomy with taxidermy specimens. 
  • A guided nature hike where you’ll learn all about the plants, animals, and geology of the Lake Diablo area. Winter attendees will get to do this hike with snowshoes. 
  • An examination of some invertebrate species using microscopes 
  • A canoe trip over Lake Diablo. The availability of this activity is dependent on the weather, so try to pick some sunny days if you’re keen on canoeing. 
  • Drawing classes where you’ll learn how to create scientific sketches and fields drawings 

Family Getaways 

The Family Getaway experience is a looser, less structured way to experience the North Cascades Institute. Just like the Base Camp course, lodging and meals are provided. This option allows you to pull from a big list of activities to build your own itinerary, many of which are more kid-friendly than the Base Camp options. 

  • A treasure hunt on the Lake Diablo shoreline and in the surrounding forest. This is a heavily supervised event, so even the youngest kids will be able to participate. 
  • A campfire filled with sing-along songs, story telling, and s’more roasting. Campfires only occur on Saturdays, so plan your trip accordingly if you want to partake in this activity. 
  • A fun-filled nature parade that also takes place on Saturdays. Kids can create animal costumes for the parade during the Project Runway event. 
  • Cooking classes using locally grown food. During these classes, you’ll also get the chance to discuss the benefits and importance of eating foods grown locally. 
  • Rebuilding beaver dams on the Sourdough Creek 
  • A daytime hike to the picturesque Sourdough Falls. This trail is particularly scenic, so bring a camera if you can. 

Skagit Tours 

If deeper wilderness exploration suits you more than course-based learning or kid-friendly fun, going on one of the Institute’s Skagit Tours is an excellent alternative. 

Featuring interactive hikes through the Upper Skagit Valley and North Cascades National Park, the Skagit Tour experience is a great way to learn about Northwestern ecology and culture while simultaneously getting a nice workout in. You’ll also learn about the history of the Upper Skagit Hydroelectric Project, which should be particularly interesting for those who like learning about how man harnesses the power of nature. 

Unlike the other Institute experiences, this one requires a fair bit of physical exertion. Make sure you’re up to the challenge before paying for a spot on the tour.

Mount Baker Ski Area

Skiers and snowboarders visiting Mount Baker will definitely want to visit the Mount Baker Ski Area. Featuring more than 1,000 skiable acres, beginners and experts alike will find the slopes of Mount Baker a fun place to ride. 

Mount Baker is a particularly fun place to ride due to its incredibly high snowfall amounts. Baker consistently ranks at the top of the heap for ski resort snowfall levels, so there will almost always be a fresh coat of powder whenever you hit the slopes. 

The one downside for powder lovers is that the areas with fresh powder are often clogged with people seeking fresh powder. Because Mount Baker is known for its powder, riders flock from all over the world to experience it. 

Access to the slopes is also quite affordable compared to other mountains in the area. While ticket prices vary from year to year, they typically sit in the $50 to $60 range. This is in stark contrast to the $100+ most of the nearby resorts charge. Just be aware that the affordability means more people will be on the slopes, so it can get a bit crowded at times. 

If you need skis or a snowboard, the Glacier Ski Shop has skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, and more. If you’re renting, you can choose from a comprehensive list of different packages:

  • Alpine
  • Snowboards
  • Cross Country
  • Kids gear
  • Snowshoes
  • Telemark
  • Randonee

If you’re planning a mountaineering trip, you can also rent climbing gear like crampons, ice axes, harnesses, and climbing skins. 

Artist Point

Artist Point is arguably the most beautiful vantage point in all of Washington. It takes a 4-mile round trip snowshoe trek to get there, but the views when you finally climb this 1,000 elevation peak are nothing short of amazing. You have a crystal clear view of Mount Baker and Baker Lake. You can also see the distant peak of some of the Cascades, including White Chuck Mountain, Sloan Peak, Whitehorse Mountain, and Three Fingers. The start of the trail also offers some terrific views of some northern peaks, including Mount Larrabee, Goat Mountain, and the American Border Peak. 

This area is always covered with a large amount of snow, so snowshoes are a necessity to get there. If you go in between July and late September, you can make it all the way to the Artist Point parking area. If you head there outside of this date range, you’ll need to start your trip at the Heather Meadows ski area, which is situated right next to Picture Lake. 

The 1,000 feet of elevation gain are pretty gradual, so you should be able to make it to the Point even if you’ve never used snowshoes before. Beginners may have trouble if there’s more snow than usual, so check the Mount Baker Ski Area snowfall reports to see if there will be any problems reaching the Point. 

A word of caution: the trail to Artist Point does have an avalanche risk. Before you begin your hike, you should check the NWAC avalanche forecast. If they do forecast a potential avalanche, choose another activity for the day. 

Nooksack Falls Trail

The Nooksack Falls trail is a short hike right off the Mount Baker Highway. At just 0.1 miles, it’s a great out and back trip for those on the way to Mount Baker or one of the surrounding attractions. The waterfall is 88 feet tall, and was featured in the 1978 film The Deer Hunter.

If you’re only interested in viewing the Falls, you don’t even need to go on the hike ‒ you can see everything right from the side of the road. It is a breathtaking sight up close though, so you should make the short hike if you can. 

River Rafting 

If hopping in an inflatable raft and paddling down the Nooksack river sounds fun to you, a trip to Wild and Scenic River Tours is highly recommended. A whitewater rafting company based in Glacier, they offer experiences ranging from scenic river rafting tours to intense Class IV Whitewater River Rafting. 

While the Nooksack river is the main rafting location, you also have the option to head down the Sauk, Wenatchee, Skykomish, and other rivers. The scenic option is a great choice for those who want to view the forests that surround Mount Baker without going on a long, exhausting hike. 

While river rafting with Wild and Scenic is fun, it isn’t cheap; the trips cost about $85 per adult and $75 for kids and seniors. 

Wild and Scenic River Tours does have a minimum age of 10, so parents with children under 10 won’t be able to partake. Rafting can also be dangerous for those who don’t know how to swim, so take that into consideration before booking a trip down one of the rivers. 

Glacier Public Service Center

The Glacier Public Service Center is a helpful resource located along the Glacier section of the Mount Baker Highway. Constructed in 1938 to help visitors to the Glacier area, the Center offers a variety of useful services:

  • 24-hour access to information on the Mount Baker area
  • Restrooms
  • Picnic tables
  • Helpful staff during the on-season

You can also buy some handy stuff, including maps, federal recreation passes, and books about the area. 

Fishing

Fishing is allowed on numerous lakes, ponds, and rivers in the Mount Baker area. A full list of approved fishing spots can be found at the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website. There are also a number of trails with particularly good fishing spots in the Mount Baker area ‒ you can find a complete list of them here.

Note: You do need a fishing license from Washington State in order to legally fish. you can apply for a license at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website. 

Restaurants/Bars

Chair 9 Woodstone Pizza And Bar

The Chair 9 Woodstone Pizza and Bar is a family-friendly place to grab some pizza, burgers, salmon, steaks, beer, and other food and drinks. The facility also offers live music, a game room, and live sports on the televisions. Conveniently located in the town of Glacier, Chair 9 is a great spot to head after a day of tiring outdoor activities. 

Here’s a list of some of the more popular items on the menu:

  • Black angus burger
  • Crab cakes
  • Veggie burger
  • BLT sandwich
  • Calzones
  • Specialty pizzas

Graham’s Restaurant 

Graham’s Restaurant is another superb Glacier eatery. Though the menu is rather small, the burgers and breakfast sliders should be more than enough to satisfy your taste buds and your appetite.  Here’s a list of the different kinds of food and drink they offer:

  • 1/2 lb burgers
  • Homemade meatloaf
  • Gluten free fish tacos
  • Fish and chips
  • Reubens 
  • Prime rib dip
  • 6 local beers
  • Wine
  • Cider
  • Champagne

Fun fact: Graham’s is a historic building, dating all the way back to 1904. The restaurant was also featured in the 1932 film “Call of the Wild” ‒ so fans of older films might want to take a few pictures here. 

Milano’s Restaurant 

Milano’s is a classic Italian restaurant, also located in Glacier. Since 1990, the staff at Milano’s have been creating delicious pizzas, handmade pastas, and other classic Italian dishes. Here are a few of their signature dishes:

  • Calamari
  • Scampi
  • Seafood Linguine
  • Chicken Sarda
  • Torta del Pastore
  • Vegan Eggplant Ragu Polenta
  • Pasta Puttanesca

North Fork Brewery 

The North Fork Brewery is a great spot to hit if you’re looking for some locally brewed beer. Specializing in British Ales and Belgian-style Sours and Lagers, North Fork brews their beer in small but high-quality batches. 

If you’re hungry, you can also grab a slice of pizza from the pizzeria menu. You can also get a side of wild smoked salmon salad or spicy ale steamers if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. 

Mountain Man Espresso and Deli

If you need a quick bite to eat on the way to or from Mount Baker, the Mountain Man Espresso and Deli is an excellent option. While the small seating area leaves something to be desired, the enormous breakfast and lunch menu more than makes up for it. They also serve some delicious coffee, which is great for a pre-hike pick me up. 

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