Pitch Your Tent in the Shadows of Giants

Wind through a chain of alpine lakes with spectacular views of Mts. Baker and Shuksan on this easy 6.5-mile overnight.

Photo: David Tate

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The croak of a raven echoes across the valley as an iceberg drifts with the wind, breaking the reflection of Table Mountain’s snowcapped andesite cliffs. Mt. Baker’s icy summit is just out of view, but a quick jaunt up the hill brings the stratovolcano’s broad cone into view; dipping down the trail in the other direction drops you at another jewel-like alpine lake dotted with backcountry campsites. The kicker? The entire loop trail is only 6.5 miles round-trip, easy enough for kids, and just an hour and a half outside Bellingham, Washington.

Mt. Shuksan Reflections

From Artist Point, follow the Wild Goose Trail down a steep slope to the Austin Pass/Heather Meadows parking lot. Views start early, with Bagley Lakes, Table Mountain, and Mt. Herman dominating the vista. Once at the Austin Pass parking lot, cross to the stone wall dotted with interpretive signs and follow a dirt trail through a gap in the wall (not the more obvious paved path; that leads to a dead end). Descend toward Bagley Lakes, then cross the bridge and follow the trail along the shore of the larger lake.

Once you reach the other end of the lakeshore the trail begins to climb towards Herman Saddle. The elevation gain isn’t particularly strenuous, but you’ll want to take lots of breaks just for the views; behind you 9,131-foot Mt. Shuksan fills the horizon, hanging glaciers clinging to its upper slopes. From the top of the saddle the panorama expands to include 10,781-foot Mt. Baker and a glimpse into the jagged sweep of the greater North Cascades Range. Past the saddle the trail winds into the basin of Hayes Lake, which has four backcountry campsites and a toilet scattered along the shore. Next in the chain the trail is named for is Iceberg Lake, then the two Mazama lakes and another four campsites and toilet. The last stretch of trail climbs back out of the lake basin before returning to Artist Point via the lower slopes of Table Mountain.

Contact Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Permit Forest Service pass required for parking; campsites are first-come, first-serve (shoulder season or summer weekdays are your best bet)


Mt. Baker
Mt. Baker and Iceberg Lake

Table Mountain

Mt. Shuksan from Artist Point

Mapped by David Tate