4-5hrs, roughly 17km
Elevation gain: roughly 800m
Distance from Vancouver: 2h30 + border time
A few weeks ago I’ve hike to Heliotrope Ridge on Mount Baker and was told that Skyline Divide was a must see around Baker. It was about just right! We made this a day trip, but I would strongly recommend doing this hike as an overnight and staying up on a clear night to watch the sunset and the stars. I will definitely be back.
We left the trailhead at around 10:30am after a long drive from Vancouver. The trailhead is accessible by all vehicle – a bit rough with potholes at some points, but mainly in good conditions. There is parking for about 30 vehicles or so at the trailhead. You will need to get a permit (5$/car) from the Glacier Visitor Center. After the visitor center, continue on the main road towards Baker and turn right soon on Glacier Creek Road (39) and then right away turn left on road 37. Follow all the way up to the trailhead! This is also no source of water on the trail, so make sure you have plenty of water to drink.
The trail first switchback for about 1.5km in the forest, and then another 1.5km in meadows and alpine forest. You will reach the alpine meadows on the crest after about 3.5km of hiking uphill (it took us about 1h). From there, the views are amazing everywhere you look around, and you can decide how far you want to go. The main official trail leaves on the right side when you come out of the forest and goes over (or around – easiest way) 2 big knolls. Just before the 4th knoll, cainrs mark the way up and over to the last section of the trail. You will gain more elevation but at each step the view gets better, and closer to Baker and its glaciers. There is also a lot of campsite in that area.
The 6th knoll has the highest elevation (about 2000m) and from there you can keep heading further towards Baker (I believe this is the ‘Chowder Ridge’) when the path is clear of snow. The hardest part of the trail was actually to come back, as we would have rather stay overnight and enjoy the views longer! Most of the way back is downhill but take time to look back again as the light changes during the day and offer more angles for nice photos and views of Baker and Shuksan!