Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Hiking Hiking Guide Nooksack Cirque

Nooksack Cirque

North Cascades > Mount Baker Area
48.8899, -121.6749 Map & Directions
Length
9.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
640 feet
Highest Point
2840 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate
Nooksack Cirque. Photo by Strider.
  • Mountain views
  • Old growth
  • Dogs allowed on leash

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

This unique, low-elevation hike follows the North Fork Nooksack River to spectacular scenery near the base of Mount Shuksan. This is a great late summer or early fall hike when Ruth Creek is low enough to ford. Keep in mind the limited maintenance this trail sees -- you may be in for a brushbash. Continue reading

Rating
3.25 out of 5

(8 votes) Log in to rate

Hiking Nooksack Cirque

This unique, low-elevation hike follows the North Fork Nooksack River to spectacular scenery near the base of Mount Shuksan. This is a great late summer or early fall hike when Ruth Creek is low enough to ford.

Follow this primitive trail of the North Fork of the Nooksack River to its headwaters in a steep-walled cirque at the base of Mount Shuksan. It's beautiful, but not without it's challenges, the first of which is at the trailhead: Ruth Creek has no bridge.

Wade the creek, or cross on a log if one is available. Keep in mind that due to quickly rising water, a log that is crossable in the morning may be under water in the afternoon. In early summer Ruth Creek waters may be too high to wade.

Once across the creek, follow the old roadbed for two miles to what was the original trailhead. Another mile through second-growth trees will take you to the Mt. Baker Wilderness boundary, then you will wind through old-growth forest for about a half mile and emerge on the bank of the North Fork of the Nooksack River at the end of this well-defined trail.

After crossing a tributary stream, the route continues by way of either gravel bars during periods of low water or bushwhacking through riparian vegetation alongside the river.

The North Cascades National Park boundary is about a mile away. Past the park boundary, you can continue through fierce brush as far toward the cirque as your cross-country travel skills allow. Pushing past the boundary to 2950 feet of elevation at 5.1 miles from the trailhead is a sight to behold -- Ruth Mountain, Icy Peak, Seahpo Peak, Jagged Ridge, and Mount Shuksan spread out for you to enjoy.

The best time to hike the Nooksack Cirque Trail is in the fall. During cool weather the water levels are low, allowing easier travel on gravel bars. If it's not readily apparent, this trail receives limited maintenance.

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Nooksack Cirque

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.8899, -121.6749 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Glacier, travel east on the Mount Baker Highway 542 for 12.5 miles past the Glacier Public Service Center. Turn left on Hannegan Pass Road 32. Follow Road 32 just over one mile to the junction with Nooksack Cirque Road 34. Follow Road 34 for one mile to the parking area at the end of the road.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

North Cascades > Mount Baker Area

Nooksack Cirque (#750)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails No 14 Mt. Shusksan

USGS Mount Larrabee

Mount Sefrit

Mount Shuksan

USFS Mt. Baker Ranger District and Mt. Baker Wilderness

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Nooksack Cirque

66 Trip Reports

Hiked here recently?

Submit a trip report!
 
Trip Reports