There are so many amazing hikes in this state that it’s hard to pick one favorite. I would put hiking Yellow Aster Butte in my top five favorite hikes in Washington. I have been eyeing this hike for a while now but since it was a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the Tacoma area it made sense to make it a weekend trip. Adding car camping near Artist Point as a stop to this weekend trip was stunning. It’s super accessible, you can drive straight to it, and it is an easy walk. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to do this hike, but it is just a bit too far of a drive for one day!
We started off mid-morning for our hike up Yellow Aster Butte. There isn’t too much space to park at the trailhead since it is just along a Forest Service Road. Make sure to bring your Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass and hit the trails prepared with the seven essentials! The trail starts off on some switchbacks right away and is a bit steep. But overall, it is a gradual incline most of the way up the mountain. Enjoy the first set of views from the initial switchbacks and look down at your tiny car. Then you head into the woods for a while and continue to go up. Once you make it out of the woods you pop out into a valley where you are rewarded with views of Baker! You cut alongside the mountain and continue to make your way upwards. In the fall the foliage is amazing and the whole trail is lined with huckleberries which makes for amazing mid-hike snacks. You continue into this little valley before going up toward the butte.
The views on a clear day are 360 degrees, so the pictures do not do it justice. But once you pass the first tarn and reach the knoll for the false summit you are rewarded with a stunning view of tarns in the valley below. If you would want to backpack this trip there are plenty of places to camp down there and many other trails and ridgelines you can explore in the area. I know I will be back!
As you continue up you make it to the false summit of Yellow Aster Butte. This is where my group decided to have lunch and sit and enjoy the spectacular views for a bit. Up top you can see, Shuksan, Baker, and even a tiny bit of Rainier.
A lot of people choose this spot to be their turnaround for the day. We wanted to go to the actual summit of the butte which was about .5-mile more down the trail. We followed the ridgeline out as you can see in the picture below. Getting to the actual summit had a bit of a scramble in my opinion, but it’s all up to you and your comfort level!
The summit area was small, there was a total of four people there and we all just fit. The views from it were amazing. If you look below, you can see American and Canadian border peaks. If you look closely in the distance, you can even see Canadian mountains. After enjoying the views there for a little too long, we regrettably started to make our way back down the trail. The views on the way down were just as stunning and had us wishing we could live at the top of this trail forever. I know this will be a controversial opinion but as someone who hiked the Enchantments this summer, I think this trail competes side by side in beauty. AllTrails said the trail was 8.5 miles with 2,791 feet of elevation gain while my watch measured it at 9 miles with 2,900 feet of elevation gain. Overall, this trail is such a treat and was a perfect day hike. It made an amazing weekend in the Mount Baker area, and it is a must add to your hiking list!