4-5hrs, roughly 10km round trip
Elevation gain: about 600m
Driving distance from Vancouver : 2h30 (and border crossing)
You will need to follow the Mount Baker Highway (State Route 542) east to the Glacier Public Service Center. Continue east for another 0.8 mile, turning right onto Forest Road 39 (Glacier Creek Road). After 8 mostly paved miles, stay left at a junction and the trailhead will be right ahead of you. You need a day permit from the Glacier Public Service Center (5$/person). The trailhead is 2WD accessible – during summer (unsure about winter time!).
We did the trail on a cloudy and rainy day and were not quite sure what to expect in terms of visibility. We lucked out and had an amazing view at the top, although the sky was still quite covered. The first 2/3 of the way up is going in zig-zags in the forest where you will gain most of your elevation. There is about 3-4 small creek crossings in the forest where you shouldn’t get your feet wet (yet). We did the hike at the end of August, so I would expect more water down the creeks earlier in the summer.
Once you get out of the forest you will reach a sign: Keep right if you are a climbing going to summit (this is one of the approach routes for Baker), and keep your left if you are heading for the Coleman Glacier view point (our route this time). You will hike in an alpine meadows where the flowers and blooming and the creeks are coming down – sometimes directly on the trail. There is two large creek crossings that can be quite dangerous (Heliotrope Creek) and where you will definitely get wet. Take your time to cross around those areas and if you have hiking poles or a branch to help you out, you will be happy to have it. This is where you will also get the first view of the glacier… which is absolutely breath taking.
Keep following the trail after the creek crossings and head towards the glacier. You will get a few areas with amazing view points. The trail keeps heading up to the right following the side of the glacier – we didn’t go all the way up as it was starting to rain and it was pretty covered, however I do believe you can get an even better and higher view on Baker and the glacier on a clear day if you keep going up a bit more. Come back down the way you came!