John Guilford's Hikes
Skyline Divide (Mt. Baker) on 1991-09-02
Location: Skyline Divide (Mt. Baker)
People: (including myself): no one
Leave Home: 10:15
Start: 1:10 4000
Skyline Divide: 2:00
Minor Knoll: 2:15 6200?
End of Lunch: 2:45
End of Trail: 3:20
Minor Knoll: 4:15
Leave Divide: 4:30
This is a lot of driving for the hiking. On the way up, I got tired and
stopped at a rest area for a 20 minute nap. I went up via the highway and
came back via Chuckanut drive.
The weather was somewhat disappointing. Mt. Baker was clear when I was
driving there, clear on my return trip, and completely covered while I was
there. Oh well. It was relatively warm, although I did put on my
windbreaker when the sun was behind clouds while I ate lunch. The bugs
didn't bother me at all unless I was stopped. Even then, it was only a
couple places where they were annoying. They seems to be somewhat spotty.
The trail was somewhat muddy (due to all the rain we had last week - no
doubt as well as the number of feet churning it up in front of me). I
don't know whether it is a very popular hike or whether it was because of
the holiday, but there were quite a few people there. Fortunately, the
divide is big enough to hold all of them while still feeling somewhat
To get there, take highway 542 east from Bellingham. A short distance
after you pass the town of Glacier you come across the Forest Service Info
Center on the right. A very short distance after this, you come across the
road (which is labeled) on the right. IMMEDIATELY after the right, you
take a left on to another dirt road. This continues for 12 miles to the
trail head. The first part of the road is in pretty good shape and you can
make good time (3rd gear) but watch for potholes. The last part is a
narrow twisty road the claws its way up the hillside on switchbacks. I had
to use 2nd gear here. The road condition deteriorates as you go further.
There was no mistaking the parking area with all the cars there.
The trail up to the divide a relatively steep continuous grind. I had
expected a flatter stroll. I set a real good pace going up (and my legs
reminded me about it all the rest of the trip). On the way I noticed
indications that people took stock up here (hoof prints, and manure
droppings). Looking at the signs I thought the stock must be fairly
recent. This was confirmed when I passed two horses and a mule 3/4 the way
When you crest the ridge, you are suddenly in the open with large meadows
before you. In front of you there is a good size mountain (which I only
saw the base of as the clouds covered the peak). I initially thought this
was Mt. Baker, but later found out that it was Mt. Shuksan. Mt. Baker is to
the south along the ridge line. It was completely obscured by clouds (I
didn't even know there was a mountain there). To the south is a minor
knoll that is a good place to spend lunch. The easiest ascent is on the
south (far) side where is it an easy stroll from the trail. A bit further
south is a higher knoll that gives the best views. It is climbed by a
steep trail on its north side.
I ate lunch on the minor knoll, watching people (and stock) coming and
going. I was on the north side of the top of the knoll, and had that area
to myself. Even with all the people, I had my zone of seclusion. After
lunch I set off down the trail to see how far it would go. I followed it a
mile or so before it ended. There were significantly less people here.
Even though the trail ended, this is all a big meadow and you could wander
further, or climb some of the hillsides and spend quite a bit of time.
There were a number of flowers blooming, including Heather and Lupen, and I
heard Marmots and saw their holes, but I didn't see any of the animals.
Near the end of the trail, there were still a couple snow patches and the
only "water supply" I had seen (it was an okay-sized stream of melt water).
On the way back along the trail I climbed the higher knoll for the
viewpoint (unfortunately Mt. Baker was still occluded). Just before
disappearing off the divide on my way out, the very peak of Mt. Baker found
a hole in the clouds and poked through, but quickly disappeared again. It
looked like the clouds were breaking a bit, but I didn't have the time to
wait around for them to clear.
Going back down the trail was pretty uneventful.
Mt. Baker peeking through the clouds from Skyline Divide.
Please send comments or corrections to
Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015