Horseshoe Bend Trail
Mount Baker Highway
This trail offers a good excuse for a delightfully short walk through dark forest along a furious whitewater section of the Nooksack River. Any season is the right time of year to enjoy this trail: it’s cool in summer, affords easy access in winter, and is enjoyably short in wet weather. The second-growth forest has grown dense but the opening created by the Nooksack River allows some sunlight to reach the forest floor. An abundance of understory plants can be found including trillium, bunchberry and wild ginger. Follow the gently rolling trail as it parallels the river to a sharp bend where you can rest and enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of river and forest as they reveal the heart of the North Cascades.
The river is always energetic here. Through most of the spring and summer it is milky white with the fine ground stone powder known as "glacier flour" released from the ice of the distant high country. When at its wildest, don’t be surprised to see a brilliantly colored kayak passing you on the trail or rocketing down the river. The slalom around the river boulders is especially prized by skilled whitewater enthusiast.
The first 1-1/2 miles along obvious trail are the best part of this hike. Though it’s possible to continue further, the trail becomes less distinct as it detours around washouts and intersects abandoned roads. Rather than continuing, drive to the Boyd Creek Interpretive Trail (turnoff one mile back toward Glacier/see Boyd Creek Interpretive Trail Article) you’ll get wonderful views of the Horseshoe Bend of the Nooksack which lends its’ name to this trail, as well as seeing a different side of the river.
Whatever your reason for traveling on the Mt. Baker Highway, take advantage of this short and lovely hike. You can bask in the fleeting rays of an unexpected sunbreak, marvel at the force of the glacier fed waters, search for the wonder of the returning salmon, or capture a little of the peace of this natural setting in the North Cascades Wilderness.
Mt. Baker Highway, about 2 miles east of the Glacier Ranger Station, across the street from the Douglas Fir Campground. Parking on right side by trailhead after crossing bridge (north/east side).
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San Juan Islands