Heliotrope Ridge

Address

Glacier Creek Road
Glacier , WA 98226

Review

The 6-mile (roundtrip) trail wanders through ancient forest, follows historic climbing routes, and ends at stunning views of fractured glaciers, towering seracs, and crashing headwalls of ice. While the hike remains a favorite for its’ close encounter with Mt. Baker’s scenery, plants, and wildlife it also serves as the approach to one of the most popular climbing routes to the summit. It’s common to see casual day hikers sharing the trail with climbing parties carrying ropes, pickets, crampons and ice axes. The trail crosses a couple of streams that can get your heart racing and your feet wet. These are good places to look for Dippers, little birds that like to bob for food and nest behind waterfalls.

Once the trail leaves the forest, the views just keep getting better. Intersections provide options but most people continue up the narrow ridge known as the "Hog’s Back." The top of this ridge marks the beginning of roped glacier travel, so hikers stop here to enjoy the view. The distinctive lines of roped climbers inching (sometimes literally) their way up the Coleman-Deming route are frequently visible. Early season visitors may see skiers carving perfect turns on untracked snow. The upper trail remains in snow for most of the year so be prepared. You’ll often see people sliding down the snow slopes for an exhilarating descent but be aware that many tragedies have resulted here from unseen cliffs and thin snow bridges.

So if you’re ready to get up close and personal with Mt. Baker, give the Heliotrope Ridge trail a visit. For a view that’s nearly as good (and requires no hiking) drive past the trailhead another half mile to road’s end at the Mt. Baker Vista.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 6/26/2001

Directions

Head east on the Mount Baker Highway for about 34 miles. About a mile past the town of Glacier, turn right onto Glacier Creek Rd. Continue for about 8 miles to the obvious trailhead and restroom. (About a half-mile farther is a Mount Baker Vista.)
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