Miles: 7.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1455 ft
My Hiking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
I decided to start a new tradition and work off some Christmas eve dinner before I fattened myself. Needing a place near by (cant be late to dinner) I went with another one of the easily accessible Chuckanut mountain trails, the Madrone Crest.
There are a variety of ways that the terminus of this trail can be reached and not all are created equal. For this day I felt that a loop would be best. This way I could experience more than one trail and keep the scenery fresh.
The loop I used was to take the North Lost lake trail until it meets with Salal trail eventually meeting with the Madrone Crest trail. On the return trip I then took the Salal trail to get back to the trail head.
This trail is just what you would expect from the Chuckanuts. Very wooded but filled with freeway noise. The trail (road) was fairly muddy but nothing out of the norm for Washington in December. The Madrone Crest itself has a nice opening where, provided the sky isn't foggy, there should be an excellent view of Baker and the Sisters as there is a wide opening in the trees facing east.
An enjoyable day considering the time restraint I was under but it left me desiring something more. Luckily snow has been falling near Baker and soon snowshoeing season can begin.
Take I-5 Exit 250 and follow Old Fairhaven Parkway / SR 11 west 1.3 miles to 12th Street. Turn Left and follow Chuckanut Drive / SR11 south 1.5 miles to trailhead parking area on the left.
Miles: 4.8 Round-trip
Elevation Gain: 1300 ft
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
My Hiking Time: 3 hrs with lots of picture breaks
With school out for winter break, and the madness of finals through, the woods seemed like the perfect retreat. As I have already hiked through much of the Chuckanuts here in Bellingham, I decided to look for a new experience and landed on Cedar lake.
The trail starts off climbing a wide path, more of a road, up the mountain. For most of this hike this will be your path as it continues to climb. Although I generally like to say all the good about a hike that I can, I am at a loss on this one. The slog up the main hill is uninteresting at best with very little to distract your attention from the constant rushing sound of the nearby freeway. That being said the hike does have its good side as well.
Once you crest the top of the hill the sound of the freeway begins to fade as the silence of the woods takes over. From here the hike becomes a nice stroll through green wilderness until you reach the trail junction for pine and cedar lakes. The two lakes are very close to each other and can easily be done in one trip. However, true to lazy college student fashion I chose to only visit one. Cedar lake is a nice little lake with a decent path that goes at least part way around the lake. It also has easy access to a viewpoint of Mt Baker and the San Juan's, but with the heavy fog in the air it seemed best to just enjoy the lake.
While not the most scenic hike, it was a nice escape from the city and life for a few hours. If you are looking for a nice laid back hike that won't take up your whole day then this would be the perfect solution.
Driving Directions per the city of Bellingham
Take I-5 Exit 250 and follow Old Fairhaven Parkway / SR 11 west 0.1 miles to 30th Street. Turn left on 30th Street for 0.9 miles to Old Samish Road. Turn left on Old Samish road for 1.3 miles to trailhead parking area on the right.
Miles: 9 Round trip
Elevation Gain: 2361 ft. (2900 ft. to Foggy Lake)
Permits: Northwest Forest Pass at trail head
My Hiking time: 2 Days (2 hrs 49 min to basin / 2 hrs 20 min back to car)
The trail to Gothic Basin is rugged, steep and scenic. Best of all its proximity to the nearby Monte-Cristo town site limits the number of people that hike up to the basin, ensuring at least some reprieve from Washington's very busy hiking trails. Each time I have come here it has solidified its place as one of my favourite destinations in Washington. With ample places to camp and side trips to two peaks available, it makes for a great 1 night escape from life. Just make sure to start early as the trail is largely exposed to the sun for the majority of the day.
To get to the basin, follow the Monte-Cristo road until just before the log crossing of Weden Creek. At this point follow the Weden Creek trail as it winds, gently at first, alongside Weden creek. After about a half mile or so the trail starts to climb with urgency as it switchbacks upward for what seems like an eternity. This portion is probably the most difficult part of the entire hike as it gains around 1300 ft in 1 mile. For some it may be no problem but for others it may be relatively difficult.
Upon exiting the woods you are first rewarded with an up close and personal view of Silvertip Peak. You will also encounter the first of three creek crossings. Depending on the time of year you hike the trail, and yearly weather patterns, the creek crossings will vary from completely snow covered to an easy step over a few stones. For the last 4 years I have visited the basin each year and can say that the easiest time to get into the basin without a lot of snow crossings, including the creeks, is late August or early September. However, generally around mid July the hike is doable without any extra gear.
Once you have navigated the creek crossings the trail continues to wind along the side of a hill below Del Campo as it slowly gains elevation toward the basin. After about 3 miles you will reach a magnificent waterfall formation, apparently named Kong's Tower. I am not sure how it got its name, but never the less it makes an excellent spot to stop, take some pictures and just take in the view before continuing on. From here it is around 1 mile of moderately steep climbing into the basin below Gothic Peak.
The lower basin itself is an excellent place to stop and take in the views of The Crested Buttes, Sheep Gap Mtn and a small glimpse of Gothic Peak. This is also where many day hikers eat their lunch turn around and head home. Some make the mistake of thinking the small pond at the bottom of the basin is Foggy Lake, but Foggy Lake is located uphill to the west from the entrance to the basin. If you want to see it your legs will have to do just a little more work.
Foggy Lake is a fairly large alpine lake settled in between Gothic Peak and Del Campo mountain. It usually has ice floating in it all year but I have witnessed people jumping into it nearly every time I have been there. It also has ample camping spots and several side trips for those with legs left In them after the climb to the basin.
For one side trip you can follow a faint climbers trail up to the ridge of Gothic Peak for a good view south (some days as far as Mt Rainier). This trail can also be followed to the top of Gothic Peak, but this involves some scrambling that may not be for some people. For this trip I decided to head the opposite way to scramble up Del Campo. You can read about the scramble by following the link.
After reaching the top of Del Campo and returning to camp it seemed time to cook dinner, relax and enjoy the view. One of the reasons this place has become special to me is the brilliant display of Alpine glow that occurs on a clear summers evening. Seemingly the whole basin lights up with splashes of yellow, red, orange and pink making for a spectacular way to eat your dinner, or at least an unforgettable one. After watching the sun fall and the moon rise, I felt it was time to retire to my tent for the evening.
No matter how many times I come here or how difficult it has been for me to get there the hardest thing for me to do is leave. My feeling is that for anyone else who appreciates the rugged beauty of this place will find it just as difficult. It is for this reason that I will continue to return for many years to come.
Miles: 6 Round trip
Permits: Northwest Forest Pass at trail head
Elevation Gain: 3925 ft
My Hiking Time: 6 hrs
The trail up Mt Baring begins with an easy road walk from the Barclay Lake trail-head. Go around the toilet facilities and follow an overgrown road for about 1/3 of a mile. At the first creek crossing look to your right for a cairn that marks the beginning of the climbers trail. This “trail” is not so much a trail but more of a general guideline. At some points there are multiple ways to go and you'll just have to pick what's best for you. If you cross the creek twice you are going the right way.
At the time of this writing there is pink tape providing a good marking for a trail. However, other times I have gone up there is none, so don't count on having a marked trail.
Once in the woods, the trail climbs quickly and steeply up the north side of the mountain. It is hard to describe the difficulty of this portion. All that can be said is this is where most people fail.
At the end of the first hill, you will crest the west ridge, which you will roughly follow for the next 1 mile. At some point you will need to go below some cliff bands and then follow a faint climbers path up the hill on the other side. This leads to the basin below the summit of Mt Baring. The summit on the left is the north summit and your destination. The south peak is rarely climbed because it is shorter and more difficult.
From the basin follow the boulder field up to the saddle, go left and follow easy trails to the summit. You will cross a couple more boulder fields, but it is fairly easy to navigate.
I was unable to find the summit register, and while I was searching a mild thunder storm began, so I raced off the summit. I can honestly say that this summit was not worth the effort, it is difficult and the view was mediocre at best. However, for someone who is just looking for a challenge this might be the mountain for you.
My name is Abrahm and I am a college student, and outdoor enthusiast . I spend much of my free time wandering through and photographing the great Pacific Northwest state of Washington.