Located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State, Skyline Divide Trail is a 14km hike that takes you into the northern foothills of Mount Baker, a 3,286m active volcano that was last time erupted in 1880. It was my second hike in Mount Baker area. The trail is an excellent choice for a day hiker or an overnighter. With a total elevation of 610m, it can take about 4-5h for a round trip.
First 3km of the Skyline Divide Trail starts steep. However, as this most demanding stretch of the hike ends, a real alpine wonderland appears. Phenomenal views of Baker, Shuksan, and many more abound will leave you breathless. It is the optimal turnaround point for those seeking a short hike or for people with low energy levels. A nearby camping area to the north (left) serves as one of the backpacking destinations.
Continue right four more km into the Mount Baker Wilderness. Over a series of five more knolls, there is a fork at the second knoll. The left path will be more challenging than the right one. At the third knoll, you will face a similar left versus right decision. At the fourth knoll, the trail to the left goes to campsites 1.6km away near Deadhorse Creek in the valley between the Skyline and Cougar Divides. If you turn right, you will ascend to the fifth knoll.
From my perspective, the further you go, the more astoundingly gorgeous Skyline Divide becomes. Look out for some whistling marmots. I was lucky enough to spot one enjoying the sunshine in the distance. Moreover, Mount Baker area is well known for a cornucopia of wildflowers. If you are hiking in a fall, you can expect to see spectacular wildflower shows in the area.
- I would call this a moderate hike from a difficulty and length perspective. There are no water sources on the ridge. Bring plenty of it.
- Sunscreen is advisable too, as the way is somewhat exposed. Moreover, the weather tends to change quickly – even during summer. Be prepared and bring plenty of layers.
- Beginning summer 2018, all visitors must use a toilet or pack out (not bury) human waste on this trail.
- A Northwest Forest Pass is required.
- Campfires are strictly prohibited.