Brandon Fralic | 11/18/2019 | Adventure - Outdoors, Boating, Hiking, Insider Blogs, Trails |   

Year Round Hiking at Whatcom County's Baker Lake

Baker Lake is one of Whatcom County’s most popular outdoor recreation destinations. During summertime, campers, boaters, and fishermen flock to the 9-mile lake’s west shore campgrounds, creating a buzzing recreation hub in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. On the east side of the lake, things remain mostly wild. Bordered by North Cascades National Park and the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness, Baker Lake’s entire eastern shoreline is traced by a 14-mile hiking trail through old-growth forest.

Hikers and backpackers can enjoy the Baker Lake and Baker River trails year-round. These trails are especially peaceful from fall through spring when the lake is still and the woods are silent. Snow may be a consideration during winter — check the latest Washington Trails Association trip reports or contact the Mt. Baker Ranger District office for current conditions. Happy hiking!

Drive to the South Baker Lake Trailhead

The easiest way to access Baker Lake Trail is via the South Baker Lake Trailhead.

From Bellingham, take I-5 south to exit 232 for Cook Road. Turn left (east) onto Cook Road and continue for 4.3 miles. At the first traffic circle, take the 2nd exit to stay on Cook Road. At the second traffic circle, take the 2nd exit for WA-20 East. Continue 17 miles east on Highway 20, then turn left onto Baker Lake Road. After 14 miles, turn right onto Baker Dam Road (NF-1112). Drive 2.4 miles, crossing over the single-lane Baker Dam (watch for oncoming vehicles). After crossing the dam, the road turns from pavement to gravel. Finally, turn left onto NF-1107 and the trailhead will be on the left in 0.8 miles. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking.

Baker Lake Trail

Baker Lake offers miles of low-elevation trails for year-round enjoyment. The best of these is Baker Lake Trail, an easygoing lakeshore ramble through old-growth forest. At 14 miles long, the Baker Lake Trail is excellent for both day hikes and backpacking trips.

Most day hikers trek to one of two destinations; Anderson Point and Maple Grove. Here’s the rundown on each hike.

Hike to Anderson Point

This family-friendly section of trail is short and gentle, rolling along the lake to a pretty Mount Baker overlook at Anderson Point. If the lake levels are low, stumps protrude from the waters at Anderson Point beach. Several campsites in this area offer fire pits and bear boxes (for food storage) to overnight campers. There’s even a backcountry toilet here, making Anderson Point an easy getaway for first-time backpackers. Day hikers can enjoy the lake and mountain views before returning to the car or extending their hike to Maple Grove.

  • Length: 4 Miles Round Trip
  • Elevation: 500 feet elevation gain

Hike to Maple Grove

Hike another two miles north from Anderson Point on the Baker Lake Trail to reach Maple Grove. Amenities here include an outhouse and dock in addition to campsites with picnic tables, fire pits, and bear boxes. This cool, shady grove provides another good turnaround point for day hikers who can snag a picnic table for their lunch break. Backpackers flock here in the summertime, but Maple Grove is relatively quiet during the rest of the year.

  • Length: 8 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 900 feet elevation gain

Backpackers, joggers, and long-distance hikers may wish to continue north on the Baker Lake Trail from Maple Grove. The next camping area is at Noisy Creek Campground, 5.5 miles northeast of Maple Grove. From Noisy Creek, the trail continues northeast to its northern terminus, 14 miles from the trailhead.

Here, the trail crosses a suspension bridge over the Baker River before meeting the Baker River Trail. The Baker Lake Trail’s full 14 miles one-way (28 miles round trip) are best broken up over a long weekend or hiked one-way via car shuttle.

Drive to the North Baker Lake Trailhead

Baker Lake Trail is also accessible from the north end of Baker Lake. To reach the North Baker Lake Trailhead, drive north for 26 miles from Highway 20 to the road-end parking lot. Baker Lake Road is paved until the last 6 miles. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking.

Hike Baker River Trail

  • Length: 5.2 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 300 feet elevation gain

Featuring towering cedars and big granite boulders, this riverside hike is another family favorite. At 0.5 miles, an impressive suspension bridge spans the Baker River and meets the northern end of the Baker Lake Trail. Soon the trail enters North Cascades National Park (dogs prohibited). Continue north on Baker River Trail to Sulphide Creek Camp, where the trail ends with a view of Mount Shuksan. Read more about the Baker River Trail at the Washington Trails Association website.


These trails are held near and dear to many in Whatcom County. Please do your part and leave no trace. Pack out everything you pack in, and pick up any trash you find while you’re out enjoying these beautiful areas.

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