I grew up in the midwest and while I have traveled extensively throughout the United States, I never made it to Washington state. My first time there was when I moved to Bellingham, WA.
My husband bought a business there. With mountains and Bellingham Bay as my backdrop, I packed up my house and toddlers and off we went. I hadn’t realized Mount Baker was so close to where we would be living. I was very excited to check it out. My boys came to love it as well.
Mount Baker is the third-highest mountain in Washington State and one of the highest in the Cascade Range. On clear days, it graces the skyline of Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, and Tacoma. In winter, it can be one of the snowiest places in the world and draws skiers and snowboarders from around the world to the slopes of its ski area.
However, Mount Baker is much more than a winter destination: It offers dazzling scenic views and year-round attractions for everyone from families with small children to seasoned outdoor adventurers.
Views at Mount Baker
It is possible to enjoy the Mount Baker wilderness without even getting out of the car – the highways and byways that traverse the forests surrounding Mt. Baker meander through meadows of heather and huckleberry bushes, past pristine lakes and ancient lava formations, and into shady stands of centuries-old mountain hemlocks.
Low-impact options for enjoying the wilderness include picnicking or renting a cabin. There are campgrounds at multiple elevations and terrains, and one unique option in mid-to-late summer is to rent an old lookout building for overnight use.
A steep trail leads up to the Evergreen lookout; the facilities are rustic but the views are unsurpassed.And some of the best and most scenic motorcycle rides on the planet, so grab your Harley.
Things to do at Mount Baker
One benefit of staying in the National Forest is that hiking and biking trails are literally at your doorstep. With 1,500 miles of trails in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, there is a perfect hike for all levels of ability.
It is even possible to hike a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail from Snoqualmie Pass, which leads to views of Mount Rainier and the South Cascades. It is also possible to explore the trails by mountain bike or by horseback.
Small-game hunting is permitted in some areas of the forest, and fishing opportunities abound in the park’s many lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Sockeye salmon season opens as early as July, and draws serious anglers to Mount Baker Lake.
Kayak and canoeing are also popular ways to explore the natural wonders of the forest, and several local companies outfit and guide rafting adventures on the Skagit and Skykomish rivers. There are also several popular swimming holes, conveniently located next to campgrounds.
Mount Baker is famous as a top winter ski destination, but it draws crowds year round with its rugged scenery and abundance of outdoor activities.
From its picturesque drives, informative visitors centers and charming picnic spots, to strenuous backpacking trails and serious mountain climbing spots in the North Cascades, aka the “American Alps,” Mt. Baker truly has something to offer every visitor.
Lots of snow at Mt Baker
I was surprised to learn that at an average of 641 inches (50+ feet) a year, Mt Baker has the unofficial record for having the highest annual average snowfall out of all the resorts in the world.
Driving up to Mt. Baker was a must-do when visitors came to town. We have enjoyed snowball fights in August! We could sled in May and June! The best part is that it wasn’t that cold and often went in our tennis shoes and sweatshirts.
Skiing and snowboarding
The ski and snowboard season is always a great time. You need chains for your car or truck but even better if you have tweens and teens is to check out the buses that drive up the mountain for the day. There are several based in Bellingham that go. Mount Baker skiing and snowboarding never seems to get too crowded.
There are lessons available. There are day passes or season passes which always make for a great gift idea. There isn’t a posh resort at the top which is why I really love skiing at Mount Baker. It’s for skiing, and it’s affordable, not luxury.
Artist Point at Mt. Baker
If you can time your trip right, between August and September, you may have the chance to go to the top to see the view from Artist Point. Pack a lunch and drive up for an unbeatable view. There are picnic tables and lookout points and easy parking. The road is blocked for most of the year due to the snow and unsafe driving conditions so it’s worth going by early September.
There are lots of trails as well, and they are usually all open but check ahead of time of you are wanting to do a certain one. Hiking at Mt Baker is not to be missed. There are so many things to do at Mount Baker, whatever the season.