The Cascade Range is a group of mountains extending from southwestern British Columbia to northern California. The North Cascades includes Mount Baker, one of six major composite volcanoes in Washington State. Mount Baker is located near the Canadian border, approximately 85 miles north of Seattle and 65 miles southeast of Vancouver. The mountain dominates the skyline from Bellingham to Vancouver, and is accessible from many points in the area. Many hikes begin and end at Artist Point, a popular starting point for a day hike. The visitor center offers a rewarding view of the mountain, and many of the day hikes are short, easy, and rewarding.
In 1790, Spanish explorer Gonzalo Lopez de Haro charted Mount Baker, which was then known as Gran Montana del Carmelo. The British commander George Vancouver later renamed the mountain in honor of his ship’s first-pilot, Lieutenant Joseph Baker, who had seen it on April 30, 1792. The mountain was already well known to the native people of the Pacific Northwest, who called it by many names, including “Koma Kulshan,” after a monastery of the same name.
The highest point of Mount Baker is a high, snow-covered pyramid that is visible from Puget Sound, the southeastern part of the Gulf of Georgia, and the eastern division of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The mountain is visible from almost any point in the Puget Sound and is an iconic landmark. The views from Artist Point are most spectacular at sunrise, so be sure to plan your trip around that. You’ll be glad you did.
Artist Point provides sweeping panoramas of Mount Baker and the nearby Mount Shuksan. Unfortunately, this scenic overlook can be closed to cars well into the summer season due to hillside erosion and crumbling walls. However, it is still possible to hike from Artist Point by bike or on foot. You’ll need to take care of the hillside, however, as the logging road is located within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Another benefit of Mt. Baker is that it’s relatively low in elevation, meaning that there won’t be as many crowds as many other busy North American ski resorts. But that doesn’t mean it’s uncrowded, and on the day Powderhounds visited, the resort was packed with people. The crowds were comparable to the level at Vail on Presidents’ Day. Although Mt. Baker is a relatively small mountain, it was incredibly busy. In fact, it was completely tracked out in a matter of 30 minutes.
The glaciers on the mountain are particularly impressive. The largest glacier, the Coleman Glacier, covers 5.2 square kilometers, or 1,280 acres. Other glaciers include Roosevelt and Mazama glaciers, which total 5.2 square kilometers. Deming Glacier, which is the largest, is also rapidly retreating, and the Park Glacier. It’s difficult to determine which one has the most snow during the winter months. But Mount Baker is still the perfect destination for those seeking an enjoyable ski vacation.