I get many guests who want to get into the mountains and experience the beauty and drama without being mountain climbers. I have a suggestion for those who are going to Mount Baker: Drive and park at the Artist Point parking lot and take one of the trails directly from there. You are just at the tree line and it is a very rocky and open area.
You will need a Forest Pass or equivalent to park in this area. They are available at a kiosk as you near the parking area, $5 for the day or $30 for an Annual Pass. This is the same Parking Permit that is required at most federally maintained trail head parking areas.
My first suggestion is to take the Artist Ridge Trail. A two mile round trip out and back jaunt that follows a hog back ridge south from the parking lot. The first couple of hundred yards are paved and wheelchair enabled, after that, it is a easy graveled trail, with some steps, but very easy to navigate. Allow at least an hour to do this trail. Most maps show this trail with a loop at the end, but I could not find it. After you leave the graveled portion, there are dozens of lesser paths that lead over the rocks, between the stunted evergreens and to a significant cliff, signaling trail end. This trail is rated as ‘Mild.’
If you are up for a little more mountainous adventure, try the Table Mountain Trail. Table Mt. dominates the view to the west of the parking lot. This trail is rated as ‘Moderate.’ It starts our pretty easy, winding and switch-backing through the rocks, then the climb begins. The 3 mile round trip seems like an easy thing to do, until you get to the steep parts. It is suggested to allow 3 hours. Caution: there are very steep and loose portions. I suggest trekking poles and good hiking boots. Keep your eyes on the trail when walking and stop to enjoy the spectacular views. This is not a place for small children or people with a fear of heights. Dogs are not allowed on this trail, even leashed.
To the left is an example of the trail about half way up. This is very steep and loose climbing. These hikers are returning and are hiking without poles. Notice how it is so steep you can actually hold onto the rocks along the trail.
We did not make it to the top on the Sept. day that these photos were taken, but you can turn around at any point and still feel that you had a good hike!
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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