Looking for a hike that incorporates something for everyone to enjoy? Check out the Baker Lake trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The Baker Lake trail is a 15-mile long hike on the east side of glacier-fed Baker Lake below Mount Baker and Mount Shuskan. Fifteen miles sounds long, but the route itself is an easy walk, and can be made into a short family-friendly outing to the water and back or a 30-mile round-trip trail run for the more adventurous. This trail has so many ways to enjoy it.
The south entrance to Baker Lake Trail is accessed by a forest road, located on the east side of the lake. You have to drive over the Baker Lake dam, which is a fun experience, seeing the crystal blue lake on one side and the drop down to a canyon below on the other. Drive slowly, it’s one lane only, and enjoy the scenery.
There’s a small parking area at the trailhead, as well as a pit toilet. The day use fee is $5 or you can use a Northwest Forest Annual Pass. There were signs indicating bear and cougar activity in the area giving hikers a warning before starting down the path. The trail goes slightly downhill toward the lake, starting in the forest and going past stands of giant old growth trees. This hike is an easy walk through the woods, with little elevation change and pretty peeks of the lake in the distance.
After a few miles, you get to a picturesque one-log bridge crossing Anderson Creek that runs down into the lake. Stop here for a snack and a splash in the water. The bridge makes a wonderful photo op. This is 1.5 miles into the Baker Lake trail and an easy turnaround spot for a shorter walk, but I recommend going a little further to the Anderson Point camping area for a great view of the lake and mountains.
This trail has four camping areas, Anderson Point, Maple Grove, Silver Creek, and Noisy Creek. All are good for an easy weekend backpacking or canoe trip, but the best views are from the Maple Creek Campground. These campsites are very well maintained, with picnic tables, fire rings, tent pads and open-air vault toilets.The sites are numbered and have gorgeous views of the lake, Mount Baker, and Mount Shuksan. There are some beach areas you could canoe or kayak into and tie up for the night while you pitch your tent.
Anderson Point is off a spur path down to the camping area, about 2 miles from the South trailhead, making for a 4 mile round trip hike. Maple Grove Campground is another 2 miles, making for an 8 mile round trip excursion. At 4.5 miles from the south trailhead you reach the Silver Creek campground, and in another 1.5 miles you reach the Noisy Creek campground. This trail can also be hiked from the North Baker River Trailhead and has horse camps there for anyone using horses to explore the area.
Bring your kayak or canoe and launch your boat from one of the campgrounds on the western shore of the lake: Kulshan, Horseshoe Cove, Panorama Point, or Swift Creek Campground. The campgrounds have the $5 day use fee (or Northwest Forest Pass) or pay $9 to park overnight and stay at one of the boat-in sites.
I encountered families, day hikers, backpackers, and canoers in my afternoon outing. You can see trail runners, horseback riders, and even llamas on this hikel! Baker Lake Trail really is the perfect place to build your own outdoor adventure and I can't go back for a longer stay.
Baker Lake can be accessed year round due to its low elevation and lacks snow most of the year. Only two hours north of Seattle, this makes for an enjoyable trip in any season.