This hike is not far from Highland Garden House, but is a world away! After driving 48 miles on paved roads, you do another 5 miles of pretty good gravel/dirt/dust/washboard to get to the trailhead and the end of the road. That last 5 miles pretty much keeps the crowds out, I believe. If it was paved, no telling if you would even find a parking place!
The Trail head does have pit toilets but there is no potable water. Several campsites are available to use for free. This is a Forest Pass required trail head, so the purchase of this parking pass is a requirement. This also allows you to camp for free.
The Baker River Trail is a 5.2 mile, round trip, out and back trail that winds along the Baker River and ends at Sulphide Creek. There are various places along the trail where you cross small streams and ‘crickletts’ but on Aug 15, 2016, they were all bone dry with the only easy water available at the end of the trail at Sulphide Creek. So: carry water!
There is a nice camping spot along Sulphide Creek and it was vacant the day I visited. You can camp mostly anywhere in National Forest lands for free. This particular spot is actually in North Cascades National Park, though.
The big view is right at the creek, where you look right up into the south face of Mt. Shuksan.
From Burlington (exit 230 on I-5), head east on the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) for 23 miles, turning left (north) onto Baker Lake Road (between mileposts 82 and 83). Continue on Baker Lake Road for 26 miles (it becomes Forest Road 11, and the pavement ends after 23 miles), reaching the road end and trail head (elev. 750 ft). Privy available. Forest Pass or National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass required.
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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