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East Bank Baker Lake

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Man-made Baker Lake, with its stump flats, isn't anything spectacular. But that's not the real draw of this trail. The free-flowing Baker River, cascading tributaries, groves of old-growth giants, views of Mounts Baker and Shuksan, and a cool little suspension bridge-those are what will bring you here. And one more thing: this trail can be hiked in any season by just about anyone.

Judging from the size of the parking lot, your hunch that this trail is a popular one is correct. Try it on a rainy weekday or during the winter months for more peaceful plodding. Sharing its start with the Baker River Trail No. 606, the way heads up a wide and smooth path, brushing alongside the Baker River for an easy 0.5 mile. Here, the two trails diverge. The Baker River Trail continues straight ahead. Your hike hangs a right, crossing the pristine waterway on a neat suspension bridge built in the late 1990s.

No doubt children will want to linger here, crossing and recrossing the suspended span several times. Once the novelty wears off, continue down the trail. Immediately cross another bridge, this one stationary, over Blum Creek's rocky bed. Shortly after crossing the river, traverse a huge washout, another reminder of the incredible carnage that was inflicted on our trails in the November 2006 deluge.

In another 0.5 mile the trail comes right up to the river. In the floods of 2006 the river took away with it 1000 feet of perfectly good tread. At about 1.25 miles come to a ledge overlooking the sweeping gravel banks of the river Baker. Peaking in the distance, the mountain Baker can finally be seen. But still no Baker the lake. The trail now turns away from the watercourse, making a short and steep climb of about 200 feet to a high bridge crossing Hidden Creek. Pause to admire the fully revealed creek careening down a rocky cleft.

With slight ups and downs, the trail continues. Passing through old burns (set by a volcanic eruption in the 1840s) and impressive old growth and crossing several creeks, the way finally comes within sight of Baker Lake. But the lake is mostly obscured by thick timber. That's okay-the forest is much prettier. Created in 1959 by the Upper Baker River Dam, the lake is the byproduct of flood control and flicking on the lights. It provides recreation for boaters and paddlers too, but its cost was great for salmon, riparian forest, and the greater North Cascades ecosystem.

At 4.5 miles come to a junction. The spur right leads a short way to Noisy Creek Campground on a small peninsula on the lake. This is a good spot for turning around, but not before first enjoying lunch, a snooze, views of Mount Baker, and perhaps a little shoreline exploration.
Driving Directions:

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 trailhead (elev. 750 ft). Privy available.

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

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 88 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
East Bank Baker Lake — Apr 13, 2014 — OutdoorDan
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail | Bugs
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I wanted a longer ramble though the forest on this glorious day with water and views. Baker Lake Tr...
I wanted a longer ramble though the forest on this glorious day with water and views. Baker Lake Trail fit the bill just fine and I headed for the south end of the trail to make for Anderson Point and Maple Grove which would be at least 7.5 miles round trip. The drive up was easy enough, there were potholes on the dirt road after crossing the dam but nothing that couldn't be driven around or through with care. There were several cars at the trailhead when I arrived including a large group of adults with kids coming back from an overnight. I counted just 9 people on my way in including 2 ladies camping at Anderson Point and a couple with a toddler at Maple Grove when I made it there. A group of 8 arrived at Maple Grove not long before I left and I saw multiple more groups on the way back for a total of around 30 people. That said, when on the trail I usually had it to myself so got some of that important solitude time in.

The trail is in otherwise good shape and mostly dry the whole length that I hiked. There were several blowdowns along the way with only one near Maple Grove requiring a minor effort to get over. Wildflowers are just starting and should be in full swing in the next few weeks. All the creeks and water crossings were running well. Anderson Creek near the campground was white and foamy making me thankful for the log bridge. Bugs were out but I had only one mosquito try to bite me, I'm sure this will change soon enough. It was cool in the morning but felt like summer all afternoon even in the shade. What a great day to be out on a mossy green trail hugging the lake with mountain views and sunny blue skies.
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Baker Lake--Maple Grove, East Bank Baker Lake — Apr 13, 2014 — MikeOnAHike
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns
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Nice early season hike. The forest in the first two miles of the hike is really pretty - lots of bi...
Nice early season hike. The forest in the first two miles of the hike is really pretty - lots of big trees and moss. It reminded me of the olympics. The next two miles had a little more variety. Some patches of that nice forest, and some more open areas with a little more sun. Everything was snow free. The trees haven't started to bud yet, so there may be more views of the snowy mountains than later in the year. The snow melt is going pretty well - we counted 33 streams in the 4 mile section of trail that we covered. Most of them have bridges, and the few that don't are easy to cross. There were a few blowdowns. Nothing bad, though one big tree required a "sit and spin" maneuver.

It's been a while since my wife and I did any hikes of significant length with our daughter, so we wanted to get out and make sure that we still could. We focused on going fast, and covered the first 4 miles in 80 minutes. We then took a 90 minute break to have some lunch and play. Our lunch stop was at a lake-side camp ground, so there was plenty of room for her to run around. Our daughter is learning the "put rocks in Mommy's pocket" game. Hopefully she never learns the "put rocks in Daddy's pack" game! The camp ground was pretty nice - it had picnic tables, bear boxes, and a reasonably clean out house. There was a boat dock, but it was beached. I don't know if the water level rises by a few feet or if someone drags it back into the water later in the season.

After lunch we went half way back to the car, and took a break at another camp ground. This one was back in the nicer section of forest. Like the other one, it had great views of Baker and Shuksan. It didn't have a dock, but did have bear boxes and an outhouse. We made it back here in about 40 minutes - we were moving fast despite carrying a toddler - the trail was soft and generally root free, so it facilitated fast movement.

From that camp ground, it took another 50 minutes and we were back at the car.

Note: follow the driving directions on WTA. The directions that Google gives will send you down a gated road through private property.
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East Bank Baker Lake — Apr 12, 2014 — KenWP
Day hike
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I wasn't expecting much on this hike, figuring it to be a typical shore-following walk, but I was pl...
I wasn't expecting much on this hike, figuring it to be a typical shore-following walk, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover all the best that this sort of hike can offer: mossy old-growth forests, views of Mt. Baker, great campsites, and pretty cascading waterfalls.

This is a great trip for new backpackers, as the trail is not very difficult, though it does have a few ups and downs, the net elevation gain is practically nil. But do not count on getting one of the primo campsites at the 4.8 mile mark at Noisy Creek, as this is a very popular destination. Go mid-week or get up super-early to stake your claim.

We started at the north trailhead for both this trail and the Baker River trail. The trail is very good, a soft boot path with a few small streams to cross. We only went as far as the Noisy Creek campground, ate lunch by the lake with grand views of Baker and Shuksan, and headed back to our campsite at the trailhead.

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East Bank Baker Lake — Mar 22, 2014 — Muledeer
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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Mt Baker was hiding in clouds and mist today, but it wasn't raining, so it was a good day for a hike...
Mt Baker was hiding in clouds and mist today, but it wasn't raining, so it was a good day for a hike. The road to the TH has a few logs down that have been cleared enough for a car to get thru. The trail itself has patches of hard crusty snow at the beginning of the hike, but nothing after you cross the bridge. There are a few blowdowns that you have to crawl over or go around, but not a huge problem. There are stream crossings, shallow, but you will get your boot toes wet. There are 2 nicely repaired bridges since the last time I hiked this trail, and some new gravel. Thanks summer trail crews! We did have a few riddles to read on this trail. Like, how did the 4x4 get 12' up a tree? and...what were the small animal bones along the trail, and how did it meet it's demise? Which small predator left the fresh scat on the trail with the pieces of bone in? ...Fun to speculate. Woodpeckers and winter wrens on the trail, 4 deer on the way to the TH, plus a large patch of blooming skunk cabbage in its prime shortly after the Baker Lake road turnoff, couldn't resist a picture, (posted in report).
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East Bank Baker Lake — Mar 21, 2014 — monkeyboy
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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just one other car at the trailhead (turns out they had thankfully just sawed out the tree that had ...
just one other car at the trailhead (turns out they had thankfully just sawed out the tree that had fallen across the road). There was 1-4 inches of hard snow on the trail to the suspension bridge across Baker River. Snow on trail continued for about another 1/4 mile. Easy to find trail and walk on snow. No snow beyond this point. A downed log across the trail at about 1/4 mile past Blum Creek blocks stock but hikers can easily step over and through branches. Stream crossings without bridges are easy to rock hop across. Had a late lunch on the Shore of Baker Lake about one mile before Noisy Creek. Lots of sunshine, great views,big trees and cool bridges. Trail in good shape, only two blowdowns easy to step around. A great spring hike.
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east bank baker lake eric jain.JPG
Baker Lake. Photo by Eric Jain.
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Location
Baker Lake (#610)
North Cascades -- West Slope
Mount Baker Ranger District, (360)-856-5700
Statistics
Roundtrip 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain 500 ft
Highest Point 1000 ft
Features
Rivers
Lakes
Old growth
Mountain views
Established campsites
User info
Good for kids
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Mount Shuksan No. 14
Lake Shannon No. 46

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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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Red MarkerEast Bank Baker Lake
48.75065 -121.556016667
  • BCRT 2013
  • Trail Work 2012
  • Trail Work 2011
  • Trail Work 2010
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