The road for the last stretch of the Mt. Baker Highway was completely clear. The sun had been shining for the past two days. With avalanche danger being low, Monday was a perfect day to head up to Artist Point.
We arrived at the parking lot around noon. It was half empty.
The trail begins past the bathroom facility. All uphill traffic must stay far right of the ski boundary.
The initial ascent was gradual.
The snow was icy and packed down, there was no need for snowshoe. But I put on mine anyway.
At this point, neither Baker nor Shuksan can be seen
But you do get a great view of the north-face of Table Mountain
(The cabin in front is the Heather Meadows Visitor Center, Mostly buried in the snow, it is closed this time of the year. But in the summer that is the starting point of the 2-mile Bagley Lakes loop trail)
And Mt. Herman
Further along the way, you pass another cabin
Before heading uphill to Austin Pass, with the ski lines to your left.
At the top, you catch your first glimpse of Mt. Shuksan in the east
and a spectacular view of the mountain ranges in the north.
Continue southwest towards Artist Point.
There are two ways to get there – you can either climb up a steep hill
Or take a more scenic route overlooking a snowy valley on your left, with Shuksan towering above
and a frozen waterfall on your right.
Enjoy the flat trail while it lasts
Because at some point, you will have to go up
Until you are up on a ridge
With a view of the majestic Mt. Baker
and the valley below.
For safety, keep away from the edge at all times.
From here, you can either head west towards the Table Mountain.
(The slope is very avalanche-prone and should be avoided if there is any risk of avalanches)
Or take a 1.5-mile round trip
to Hutoon Point.
With, again, Mt. Shuksan to your left
and a cluster of funny looking trees to your right
Hutoon Point is a good place to rest up
and take in all the breathtaking views around you.
It was 3:30 by the time we started the descent. With the sun sinking behind the peaks, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped significantly.
We made a mistake trying to pick another trail and ended up on top of a steep slope.
Fortunately we were able to retrace our steps, and got back to the car
Just in time for an amazing sunset as we head out.
This is a rewarding hike on any given sunny day, IF there is very low avalanche danger. I highly recommend it!
From Seattle, take I-5 north towards Bellingham, then follow the Mount Baker Highway (SR 542) to the very end (55 miles). The trailhead to Artist Point is at the last parking area on the Mt. Baker Highway. Upon arrival at Heather Meadows, continue to drive around Picture Lake (one-way) and past the ski lifts. The large parking area is on the right at the end of the road. The trail begins left of the bathroom facilities.