Hiking Mount Baker: Where all the Fun Begins

nooksack river at mount baker

We’re back! This Summer I’ve been busy in the midst of transition. Transplanting myself from living in the greater Seattle area to greater Bellingham. My family and I have gone from being “city mice to country mice”. Woah, big change. But why? We appreciate the natural world. We wanted more space and more trees. It’s been an emotional roller coaster to get here. However, now that I’ve landed I’m thrilled to be a short drive up the highway to Mt. Baker and Snoqualmie National Forest. That’s right, I live in the foothills of the brilliant Mount Baker! Ohhh the trails I will hike! Other’s visit here all year long for snow sports, as well as, summer adventures. Today was just the beginning of it all…

nooksack river horseshoe bend trail

Horseshoe Bend Trail

It was great to get my hiking shoes on again. The Horseshoe Bend Trail is only about a 2-mile hike following the pristine Nooksack River. Hikers can climb down from the trail and sit on a log, feeling the rivers mist in the air. Listening to the water crash onto boulders, while getting some exercise hiking up and down easy inclines. Gain is about 200 feet. Trees were green and mossy, even though it is an outrageously dry summer. I felt thankful we have not seen forest fires directly here, as so much of the West Coast has.  Getting here is a piece of cake. From Bellingham area follow Mt. Baker Highway East towards Mt. Baker. Just after arriving in the town of Glacier, cross over the Nooksack River and pull off where the Douglas Fir Campgrounds is. The trail head is right across from the campgrounds.

nooksack river water along horseshoe bend trail

Beauty of the Nooksack River

One could literally sit on a bench, meditate and stare at the gorgeous beauty of the Nooksack all day long! The fresh teal color of the water is majestic. This area is not great for swimming, however. I saw a few girls climbing a boulder in the river and thought that it was really risky. The Nooksack’s powerful current would whisk you away in a heartbeat. I did go down and put my hands and feet in the cool water, splashed my face and head since it was over 90*F today. This is a really great trail for appreciating the gorgeous river. Bring your friends, your kids or dogs along for this one.

Good for Family, Dogs, or Just Hanging Out

I saw several groups of people enjoying the trail, including young kids and families with dogs. If you’re not interested in hiking it would still be a great place to check out for a short walk and viewing. A pass is required called the Northwest Forest Pass. I got the annual one for $30 to display on my dashboard. Plan your hike with this awesome hiker powered website Washington Trails Association. Warning: those with small children, there are several places with dangerous cliffs and ledges.  So if the little ones are coming along make sure they are big enough to understand about staying on the trail or hook them up in your backpack.

washington boulder horseshoe bend trail

Excessive Heat Warning

There are a few places to stop for information in Maple Falls or Glacier. Cell Service is minimal at best in the park. Don’t forget to check the weather. Today was hot with lots of smoke in the air from all the crazy forest fires this summer. Seems like I hear of another epic fire every other day. As I write this, the view from my house disappears behind the smoke. Many thousands of acres of trees have burned and it’s heartbreaking. Also, a total shame that the American President doesn’t acknowledge global warming – to me it is so obvious! So far this park has been safe. But we all need to be so careful and know about burn bans and check the air quality before going hiking. That being said, I am just getting started on these trails and am sure feeling grateful for them! As long as the air quality holds up, I will be getting out there as much as possible before Fall season sets in! I even stopped for ice cream and espresso in Maple Falls – score!

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