|Mt Baker Area Outdoor Recreation
(Mt Baker holds the seasonal snowfall record of 1,140 inches)
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|The Mount Baker and North Fork Nooksack River area is unsurpassed in its scenic beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan (said to be the most photographed mountain in the world!) lie at the headwaters of the Nooksack River watershed in northwest Washington State.
A map of the Mt Baker Highway, Trails and Campgrounds can be found at Mt Baker Highway and Trails Weather and road reports will be found at Area Weather and Road Reports Snow conditons, ski trails, and most other activities can be found by following the links within the pages of mt-baker.com. In addition to the photos within the web site pages, a gallery of area photos is provided at Mt Baker Area Photo Gallery
The summer sun brings warmth and radiance to the forests and mountain tops. The snow line recedes and the alpine meadows transform into lovely carpets of color from avalanche lilies, heather, lupine, Indian paintbrush, and many other flowering plants. As the temperature continues to warm, the upper tributaries become beautiful silvery torrents and the North Fork Nooksack turns blue-green from the spring run-off and the silt of glacial meltwater. By mid-summer, the Heather Meadows Recreation Area is clear of snow and the road opens to Artists Point and the Austin Pass picnic area, offering spectacular views of Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, and surrounding peaks. Moonrises at dusk, the luminous heavens, and August meteor showers create magnificent evenings and unforgettable experiences.
This is the perfect time for camping out along a stream or by the river, fly-fishing in high mountain lakes, and outdoor barbecues. With over 100 miles of maintained trails and many Forest Service roads in the region, there are diverse backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, climbing, hiking, and sightseeing opportunities for all ages and levels of experience. Camping is available at Silver Lake Park and at Douglas Fir, Silver Fir, Excelsior, and Deadhorse Creek Forest Service campgrounds. Public restrooms are located at Austin Pass, Glacier Ranger Station, Silver Lake Park, and the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead.
Should you prefer guided trips and tours, there are numerous river rafting outfits working the river in summer.
The first frosts in late August herald the coming of autumn. By the second week of September the high country is aglow with the golds of mountain ash and the fiery reds and oranges from the leaves of blueberries and huckleberries. Summer activities carry over into fall and are joined by hunting and berry picking; a trip to the meadows at this time of year will provide sweet berries to nibble on during a trek or to take home for making pancakes, jams and pies. By late September and into October, the big leaf maples and cottonwoods in the lower North Fork valley are at their peak in color, making this an ideal time to enjoy a fall drive. Sometime in late October or early November, snow begins accumulating again in the higher elevations and a serene silence descends on the mountains.
Autumn is also an ideal time to get-a-way to a private retreat such as the Glacier Guest Suite and enjoy the quiet beauty of the valley as winter begins to settle in.
By late November, winter has arrived to stay in the mountains and the Mt. Baker Ski Area is open daily for alpine skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. Located at Heather Meadows, the Mt. Baker Ski Area holds the world record for the highest accumulated snowfall in a season (over 1130 inches). The average snowfall is 615 inches (1562 cm) and the operating season generally extends from November 1 to May 2. The beautiful White Salmon Lodge is located at elevation 3500 ft (1060 m) and has a breathtaking vista of Mt. Shuksan. The ski area has 8 chair lifts with a total vertical rise of 1500 feet (455 m). The terrain is classified as: 31% expert, 45% intermediate, and 24% beginner.
In addition to visiting the ski area, there are other wintertime activities to consider. These include snowshoeing and touring the many miles of snow-covered logging roads; visits to thundering Nooksack Falls; low elevation hikes along the river and its tributaries; eagle-watching along the lower river; winter steelheading; and more.
Links to additional recreational information:
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Information
The North Cascades National Park Service Complex
Mt. Baker Ski Area
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Revised August 2009