Early-season hikes near Mount Baker? Try lovely Baker Lake

Hikes at this time of year can be tricky: Higher elevations are likely still buried in snow. Fallen trees or rocks may block passage. But here’s an easy hike with smashing views of an iconic North Cascades mountain.

In early summer, the mountains sometimes just don’t cooperate.

Hikes at this time of year can be tricky: Higher elevations are likely still buried in snow, especially after a winter like this last one. Fallen trees or rocks may block passage, or sections of trail may have sloughed off and fallen down hillsides. Access roads are full of potholes big enough to swallow a compact car.

But long, beautiful days call us to hike, and so we make our way into the freshly reborn wild.

Hoping to avoid inevitable crowds at low-elevation hikes along the Interstate 90 corridor, we recently headed north to explore some of the areas we’d previously skipped between Mount Baker and North Cascades National Park.

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The mountain itself wasn’t much of an option for a snow-free hike: Mount Baker Ski Area reported a total snowfall of 866 inches by the end of April. The recent weekend we visited, Mount Baker wasn’t even showing any of its glaciated faces, instead shrouding itself in a cloak of thick clouds.

Good thing our plan was for a waterfall-focused hike instead. Most of what we wanted to see on the route would be right at our feet.

Around Baker Lake

Taking advantage of clear roads around Baker Lake, we headed to its north end, at the end of Baker Lake Road (Forest Service Road 11), for a jaunt along the Baker Lake Trail, which we chose because of its low elevation and recent trip reports indicating that the trail was in good shape except for one bridge at the south end of the 14.5-mile trail. (Washington Trails Association calls it the “East Bank Baker Lake Trail,” if you’re looking for reports.) Since we were doing an out-and-back from the…

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