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Artist Point Snowshoe

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Artist Point may have earned its name because of the oft-captured image of the broad meadows filled with summer wildflowers, backed by the towering rock summit of Mount Shuksan and glacier-crowned Mount Baker. But many feel the area is even more beautiful and worthy of reproduction on film or canvas when shrouded with snow. The actual namesake of this trail is a high viewpoint between the two great peaks. All around the point are ancient forests, and come winter, the deep green trees are cloaked in shrouds of white as wind-driven snow and hoarfrost cling to the evergreen limbs. On overcast days, the area becomes a world of black and white, with many shades of gray. But on clear, calm days, the world is blue and white: white snow, white peaks, blue-tinted evergreens, and sapphire blue skies.

To start the trip, leave the south (upper) end of the ski area parking lot and edge along the flank of the downhill area along the access road leading to Austin Pass, or choose the steeper, straight-up route followed by the summer hiking trail. Just past the ski runs, the route turns upward and you begin a long, steady climb to the pass. Stay off to the right of the road to avoid cross-country skiers who are heading for the deep, backcountry bowls beyond Artist Point. The track covers 500 feet of elevation gain from the parking area to 4700-foot Austin Pass, but that gain is easily accomplished on snowshoes--it's the side-stepping cross-country skiers who will be sweating this section.

From Austin Pass, the road sweeps out to the left in a long switchback. Keep right, and climb the open meadows ahead to cut across the neck of this loop, rejoining the road in a few hundred yards at the road end at the lower end of Kulshan Ridge, just past the 2-mile mark. A final 0.25 mile of hiking to the left along this ridge gets you to the impossibly beautiful views at Artist Point.

Soak in the views of Mount Shuksan to the east, Mount Baker to the west, and to the southwest Coleman Pinnacle towers seemingly just beyond reach. Backcountry telemark skiers are often seen playing in the steep, deep snow bowls along Ptarmigan Ridge, which stretches between Artist Point and Coleman Pinnacle. This ridge is filled with dangerous avalanche chutes, so before deciding to trek out along it, be sure of the current avalanche conditions.

A better option for an extended trek from Artist Point is to the left (east) along the more stable snow of Kulshan Ridge. A half mile of hiking along the deep snow on the ridge crest leads to Huntoon Point, a high knob on the upper end of Kulshan. From this lofty observation point, look out over the expanse of the Mount Baker Wilderness to the west and south, the North Cascades National Park (which encompasses Mount Shuksan) to the east, and the ragged line of Shuksan Arm----reaching out from Shuksan--to the north.


Authors Rating: More difficult. Some previous snowshoe experience helpful. Some winter survival skills recommended (basic knowledge of avalanche evaluation, emergency shelter construction, etc.). Elevation gain is usually less than 1000 feet with a gradual slope.
Driving Directions:

To get there, from Bellingham drive east on State Route 542 (Mount Baker Highway) to the road end, about 55 miles, at the upper parking lot of the Mount Baker Ski Area.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 57 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Artist Point Snowshoe — Apr 01, 2014 — thebrink
Snowshoe/XC Ski
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From south of Everett on I-5 we could see Mt Baker in all it's white cover without a cloud in site a...
From south of Everett on I-5 we could see Mt Baker in all it's white cover without a cloud in site and indeed once we arrived at the parking lot above Heather Meadows the weather was perfect for a snowshoe. From there you have to do some work to get a view of Mt Baker again as the Kulshan Ridge obscures it.On the other hand you have a great view of Table Mountain for the entire hike as well as Mt Shuksan.

We followed the Blueberry Cat Track to the summit of the ski run and had lunch with a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. I did a bit of off-trail hiking and found the snow to have a crust about one inch thick on top and then even with snowshoes I sank in up to my knees. When I lifted my leg up for each step the crust had to be broken again in order to move forward. Coming back down on the return the off-trail snow was better and made a nice cushion for sore knees.
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Artist Point Snowshoe — Jan 25, 2014 — angmw05
Day hike
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This hike has been on my bucket list since moving to WA, and boy is it worth it. GO! Headed out fro...
This hike has been on my bucket list since moving to WA, and boy is it worth it. GO!
Headed out from Seattle at 7 and couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day – not a cloud in the sky. Our group of four headed out from the Mt Baker parking lot about 10. Though the packed lot was mostly for skiers, there were a fair amount of people heading up to snowshoe.
We made our way over to Artist Point. Pictures don’t do it justice.
There were several other people climbing up to a ridge north or Artist Point. We headed over. It was a bit dicey at points, seeing as we did it with gloves and hiking boots, but we made it up in the established steps carved out by previous hikers. The view from the top was spectacular. We slid down from about half way up.
On the way back, we all caught our breaths when a friend made a half way attempt at glissading down an area and ended up sliding about 1500 feet down ice into a valley. He took a pretty hard tumble and lost a few belongings, but was well enough to tell the tale. A snowmobile almost immediately met him out there, but he redirected them to another injured snowshoe-er. Be careful with your steps. The snow is ice and once you start sliding, there isn’t much to stop you.
Great day! Make it out to this amazing spot!
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Artist Point Snowshoe — Jan 23, 2014 — jmhere
Snowshoe/XC Ski
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Beautiful day for a snowshoe! We headed up to Mt Baker for an overnight snowshoe and snowboarding tr...
Beautiful day for a snowshoe! We headed up to Mt Baker for an overnight snowshoe and snowboarding trip. We put on our snowshoes and made it to the Mt Baker resort at around 1130am on Thursday. The upper parking lot had about 10 cars. We started walking on the cat track of the ski resort. We followed this track all the way up with our snowshoes on. We traversed a couple steep areas and that's where the snowshoes came in handy, otherwise you could this hike in microspikes because the snow was so packed down. The view at artist point is NOT to be missed. There was nothing but blue skies and full views of Mt Baker and Shuksan. The road leading up to the resort was clear, no ice no snow. There isn't snow in the forecast for a couple days so the road conditions will still be ideal.
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Artist Point Snowshoe, Artist Ridge - Huntoon Point — Jan 20, 2014 — seattlehiker
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Decided to head up to Artist Point for a snowshoe adventure today. Plagued with bad weather on previ...
Decided to head up to Artist Point for a snowshoe adventure today. Plagued with bad weather on previous trips up there, but today did not disappoint! The weather was just gorgeous, with a nice 15 degree temperature inversion up top.

There was some frost on the Mount Baker Highway between Glacier and the Hannegan Pass Road. The highway up from there was clear of snow and ice, and even completely dry in places. A very easy drive with the current conditions.

The snow is a bit crusty on the snowshoe, but the views are well worth it. Lovely 360 degrees sights from Artist Point. Make sure you take a little extra time and head to Huntoon Point -- it has the finest views of Shuksan! The current snowshoe route is a little steep in spots, but the steepness is always shortlived. Lots of folks out today enjoying the view. Artist Point should be on every snowshoer bucket list!
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Artist Point Snowshoe — Jan 20, 2014 — seattlenativemike
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Back again for sunrise. Left at 330am, left the parking lot at 645am. Went out and back using Sore...
Back again for sunrise. Left at 330am, left the parking lot at 645am. Went out and back using Sorels not snowshoes. Was the only car in the lot when I arrived. Came back and people were hunting for parking. Took exactly an hour to reach the Mount Baker view.
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Artist Point by Snowshoe.XC Ski.JPG
Artist Point by Snowshoe/XC Ski. Photo by NobleHikers.
Location
North Cascades -- Mount Baker Highway
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain 1200 ft
Highest Point 5200 ft
Features
Mountain views
User info
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails: Mount Shuksan No. 14

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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