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Chain Lakes

Loop trip nirvana in the North Cascades! Picturesque alpine lakes, gorgeous open ridges, constantly changing views of Mount Baker and Shuksan and mountain wildlfowers dominate this hike.

You can do a loop trip described here, out-and-back, or short loops - choices abound (but do stay on established trails only). From the Bagley Lakes trailhead, follow the trail to the Bagley Lakes. Admire Table Mountain, and how it plunges straight into the lakes. Continue right for the Chain Lakes, climbing to Herman Saddle. The views here are stupendous!

Now drop into the Chain Lakes. The first (and largest) is Iceberg Lake. You may encounter snowfields in this section well into late summer, and sometimes these never melt out. Be prepared. At Iceberg Lake, you can take a small side trail to Arbuthnet and Hayes Lakes, or you can continue on to picturesque little Mazama Lake.

Climbing out of the Chain Lakes Basin, you will reach a pass between Table Mountain and Ptarmigan Ridge. Go to the left for about a mile until you reach the Artist Point parking lot (this is also a good place to start your hike). The Wild Goose Trail will take you back to your car without requiring you to walk the road (that is, if you're there after the snow melts).

Unless you know the Wild Goose Trail starts across the Mt. Baker road from the Artist Point parking lot, you will probably not find it. The start is marked by a strange cairn that looks like a wide light-colored brick chimney on which is a small plaque with a picture of (presumably) a wild goose. We lost the trail at the next parking lot and picnic tables. No signs. Wild Goose trail seems to be marked in the opposite direction (from Bagley Lakes parking lot to Artist Point parking lot).
Driving Directions:

Travel east on Mt. Baker Highway 542 to the road's end and the Mount Baker Ski area. Follow the signs to the upper parking lot and the Bagley Lakes trailhead.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 70 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Heather Meadows, Wild Goose, Artist Point Snowshoe, Chain Lakes, Artist Ridge - Huntoon Point — Nov 24, 2013 — Really Rosiem
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Sunny skies and a temperature inversion made perfect conditions to spend the afternoon snowshoeing f...
Sunny skies and a temperature inversion made perfect conditions to spend the afternoon snowshoeing from the Mount Baker ski area at Heather Meadows to Artist Point. Road conditions were clear all the way to the parking lot. Because it was such a beautiful day on a weekend day, we almost didn't head up there because we thought the parking lot would be full and the area jam packed with people. True, it's a vast area, but what a treat to find the parking lot not even half full, and no big crowds at all.

We started out snowshoeing from the trailhead for the Wild Goose Trail and turned around once we had reached Artist Point. The sign for the Wild Goose Trail is just about under the snow now, but there is a good track marked out in the snow so was easy enough to follow.

Stopping for a picnic lunch with a marvelous view of Mount Shuksan, we sure wished we already had one of those fancy GSI Commuter Java Presses that we might win by writing a trip report that includes a photo of a great place along the trail to enjoy a cup of java. Seriously, check out our boot/snowshoe shot from our picnic spot along our trail! It's the photo with Mount Shuksan as the backdrop as we sit eating our leftover fresh spinach and chicken pizza. Might I add that this was no ordinary pizza but a homemade pizza from my very own kitchen. Delicious and I am sure that the only thing that could possibly have made that lunch any better would have been if we could have been sipping a fresh cup of java made from our brand new winner of a GSI Commuter Java Press! We need this coffee press! Thank you for listening . . . and enough said.

Even without the coffee, we had a spectacular day out on our snowshoes as we gained approximately 1,200' in elevation and my fitbit recorded that I had walked nearly seven miles during the afternoon. Who could ask for a better day under such a beautiful blue sky?
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Chain Lakes, Bagley Lakes — Oct 06, 2013 — DenisHashhag
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage | Ripe berries
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail
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Went on a shot hike up the Chain lakes trail in the Heather Meadows area. We started from the bagley...
Went on a shot hike up the Chain lakes trail in the Heather Meadows area. We started from the bagley lakes trailhead which is pretty much as far as you can go as the road to artist point is closed for he season. We probably only went a mile or so before we turned back due to deep snow. However, the views on the first mile themselves are pretty good. The sunshine, thin layer of snow and fall colors were ideal.
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Chain Lakes — Sep 20, 2013 — kae
Overnight
Features: Ripe berries
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Did a quick overnight by myself at Chain Lakes from Artist Point TH. Went about three miles and cam...
Did a quick overnight by myself at Chain Lakes from Artist Point TH. Went about three miles and camped between Haynes Lake and Arbuthnet Lake, the 3rd and 4th of the chain of lakes. Only 8 campsites between the 4 lakes, no permits required, and you can only camp at designated sites, so on a busy summer weekend you could EASILY be SOL. Going in, the weather was great with big views but I paid for it sorely the next day, going out was so rainy that there was a small river ON the trail in many places, got soaked to the bone, but it was worth it. Tons of blueberries still, fall colors haven't started yet.

In the morning when I opened my tent, there were two hunters in full hunting getup and guns held with both hands tiptoeing through my campsite; surprise! In a whisper they asked me how I slept. They were looking for a boot path to nearby Barometer Mountain. Luckily they were very friendly.
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Chain Lakes — Aug 31, 2013 — DawgFanEric
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
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Wow! There's a reason WTA called this hike one of the "Essential Washington" hikes. Baker, Shuksan, ...
Wow! There's a reason WTA called this hike one of the "Essential Washington" hikes. Baker, Shuksan, and Northwest peaks abound. Beautiful lakes pop up all along the trail.

We started at Artist Point, hiking Chain Lakes trail to the Heather Meadows Visitor Center where we caught the Wild Goose trail back to Artist Point. Be aware, though, if you do the loop in this direction that you will take on the steep climb (700 ft) on the Wild Goose at the end of the hike!

Beautiful wildflowers were all around as well as abundant small streams of runoff from the melting snow on the mountains. Ripe berries were also all around on the trail.

With nice weather on Labor Day weekend, the trails were crowded, but we didn't expect to be alone up there. We also got an early start, which really helped avoid heavy crowds at the outset.

Only real downside was a good number of black flies around the lakes, but they weren't too bad as long as you kept moving. Might be an issue if you stopped for lunch at one of the lakes.
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Chain Lakes — Aug 24, 2013 — Mjandlou
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
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Great day in Alpine wonderland! Parked at Bagley parking area and headed walked over a small dam and...
Great day in Alpine wonderland! Parked at Bagley parking area and headed walked over a small dam and along a short valley to the first lake. Then a steep long pull up to Herman Saddle which was worth every step for the incredible views. Blueberries picked fresh along the way made it easy to keep going to Iceberg lake which is clear and home to some trout. After a little fishing and a rest we continued the rest of the way past Mazama lake and on up to Artists Point. The last mile before Artists Point was very busy on a Sunday afternoon. After making the parking lot we headed down Wild Goose and back to the car. With the fishing break of about 45 minutes we were still around the whole loop in about five hours.
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Chain Lakes CBig.jpg
Photo by CBig.
WTA worked here!
2010
Location
Chain Lakes (#682)
North Cascades -- Mount Baker Highway
Mount Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1700 ft
Highest Point 5400 ft
Features
Lakes
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Wildlife
Established campsites
User info
Good for kids
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking North Cascades (Craig Romano) - Mountaineers Books
Green Trails #14 Mount Shuksan

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48.8631799 -121.6793076
  • Trail Work 2010
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