East Bank Baker Lake
Hike of the Week:
May 12, 2008
Location: North Cascades
Distance: up to 9 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 500 ft up and down from 1000 ft.
Maps: Green Trails #14 Shuksan, #46 Lake Shannon
Most of this trail is snowfree! It makes a great spring day hike or early or beginning backpacking trip. There are two trailheads for this hike and each offer a wonderful walk through lush old growth with views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan.
The southern trailhead is located near the Anderson Creek Sno-Park. The route parallels Baker Lake, staying high on the slope and within the trees. Right now spring wildflowers are blooming - trilliums and yellow wood violets to name two.
At 1.8 miles a spur trail on your left leads to the Anderson Point Campground. This is a nice sidetrip or turn-around, since it takes you down to the lake. The best views, however, are found if you continue to the Maple Grove Campground at 3.8 miles.
The northern trailhead is accessed on the northern tip of Baker Lake. It's the more popular trailhead, and offers more big bridges and creek crossings. This route begins on the Baker River Trail #606. After one-half mile, the East Bank Baker Lake Trail #610 forks to the right and crosses an amazing suspension bridge.
Shortly after, you can witness the force of flooding as you cross a large area that was washed out in 2006. It's fixed now. Baker Lake remains out of sight much of the way on this route as well. Instead, you get old growth forest, gurgling creeks and peek-a-boo views of the Mt. Baker range. At 4.5 miles, you can turn right and descend to the Noisy Creek Campground - a great place to lunch, camp and hang out. Note that as of 5/8/08 there is still snow after 1.5 miles.
This trip can also be done end-to-end, which totals about 15 miles.
Mt Baker Ranger District, MBSNF (360) 856-5700; check trail conditions. Northern trailhead route is described in Day Hiking North Cascades by Craig Romano (Mountaineers Books); southern trailhead route is described in Don't Waste Your Time in the North Cascades by Craig & Kathy Copeland (Wilderness Press). Read WTA Hiking Guide and Trip Reports.
Southern trailhead: From I-5 just north of Mount Vernon, take exit 230 onto the North Cascades Highway, which is Highway 20. Drive through Sedro Woolley and from there continue on Highway 20 for 14.5 miles where you turn left (north) onto the Baker Lake-Grandy Lake road. Drive 14 miles to the Baker Dam Road and turn right. After crossing dam, turn left at a gate onto FS #1107, cross Welker Cr. and drive to a trailhead on left side of road,1.1 miles from the dam.
Northern trailhead: From I-5 just north of Mount Vernon, take exit 230 onto the North Cascades Highway, which is Highway 20. Drive through Sedro Woolley and from there continue on Highway 20 to the Baker Lake Road (between mileposts 82 & 83). Go left and continue on the Baker Lake Road for 26 miles (pavement ends at 23 miles and it becomes FR 11). At the end of the road you will find the trailhead.
Northwest Forest Pass is required at both trailheads.