Hike of the Week:
December 31, 2007
Location: Mt. Baker Ski Area
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation: 1,100' gain to 5,220'
Map: Green Trails, Mt. Shuksan No. 14
The panoramic view of Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, Coleman Pinnacle, the Ptarmigan Ridge is even more beautiful under deep layers of snow than it is in the summer. And that says something for a place called Artist Point.
What's more, Mt. Baker Ski Area, where the trail begins, is known for having some of the deepest snow anywhere in North America. This is a great place to go if you want to experience white stuff. Because of the ski area, it is easy to
reach and park, provides snowshoe and telemark rentals, and you can even get some warm food at the end of your day.
To reach Artist Point, leave the upper parking lot and skirt along the west edge of the ski area, staying out of the way of downhill skiers. You'll be on the access road to Austin Pass, a 500 foot gain from the parking lot. It's a slog, but much easier on snowshoes than skis.
As the road switchbacks to the left at the top of Austin Pass, you can take a shortcut to the right and through meadows before you rejoin the road at the 2 mile mark. Follow Kulshan Ridge a quarter mile to the left and up to Artist Point.
You probably won't be alone at the Point, but no matter - there are views in every direction to enjoy.
For more information:
- Snowshoe Routes: Washington, by Dan A. Nelson and Cross-Country Ski Tours: Washington's North Cascades by Tom Kirkendall & Vicky Spring, Mountaineers Books
- Avalanche Hotline: (206) 526-6677; website.
- View our Trip Reports and Hiking Guide for Artist Ridge.
Drive Highway 542 east from Bellingham 55 miles to its end at the upper Mount Baker Ski Area parking lot. Click here to read about current driving conditions.