Damfino Lakes


The quiet forested solitude of Damfino Lakes provides a wilderness setting that is only a short summertime walk from the trailhead. As lovely as the lake setting is, the attraction for most people visiting this area is the drive up Canyon Creek Road and the many wilderness travel possibilities that a visit here provides.

Beginning at the highway, the narrow paved Canyon Creek Road climbs quickly. Pullouts offer safe places to stop and appreciate the beautiful vista of Skyline Divide and Mount Baker across the deep Nooksack River Valley. The road has a few rough spots just before the bridge across Canyon Creek at about 7-1/2 miles from the highway.

Driving adventurers can take the steep rocky road to the left to explore the west end of the Canyon Ridge trail or the east flank of Bald Mountain. The main road to the right passes over old pavement and becomes gravel as it ascends the Canyon Creek Drainage. To the south (right side) of the drive, views of distinctive Bearpaw Mountain reveal the overhung "claws" of this well-named peak and hint at the beauty of its rocky crag. Various turnoffs to the south lead to approaches of Bearpaw Mountain, Bearpaw Mountain Lake, and Church Lake. The drive ends at 7-1/2 miles from the bridge at the Damfino Lakes trailhead on the right.

The trailhead at 4,200 ft elevation enters the deep dark forest. Within minutes a junction to the left indicates connections with the Boundary Way and Canyon Ridge trails. A short distance further the trail crosses rough wooden walkways which skirt the lakes and reveal the bright openings in the otherwise cool dark forest. Here one can enjoy the sights and sounds of the rich plant and animal diversity that thrive in this wet and sunny forest location.

Those who would like a longer hike can continue. The trail emerges into the richly vegetated alpine meadows that lead to Excelsior Peak, Excelsior Trail (from Mount Baker Highway), and the High Divide trail system. Various loops and car shuttles can be arranged but the hike back down to the trailhead is just as pleasant and offers an entirely different view as it descends into the forest surrounding Damfino Lakes. Spring and summer offer the easiest drive and the greatest display of wildflowers. The price can be muddy trails and insect nuisances but hiking up into the breezes of the higher country often solves this problem. In winter the road system is maintained as a snowpark (permit required). This is a favorite location for snowmobilers to approach snowline in the backcountry. You will also find snowclimbers, snowboarders, skiers and snowshoers sharing the road system but diverging into their own favorite areas. Winter travel requires special training and equipment and the roads themselves suffer heavily each year from avalanches but for the properly prepared Canyon Creek Road and Damfino Lakes can offer a nearly year round wilderness experience.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 9/18/2000


State Highway 542 (Sunset Drive in Bellingham) go east, about 1 ½ miles past the Glacier Ranger Station to Canyon Creek Road on the left.


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