On the way up to Mount Baker, a popular pit stop is the budding community of Maple Falls. For all the times I’ve passed through, let alone stopped at Maple Fuels, for the car or myself, I had never meandered down to the elusive falls. My guide for the day was Rebecca Boonstra with the Mount Baker Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Center. Our destination was a historical highlight from the 1911 Mount Baker Marathon as told by the documentary Mountain Runners (watch the trailer).
The trail quickly crossed Maple Creek as it drains from Silver Lake to the north and cascades down the hillside as it enters the North Fork of the Nooksack River below. The rugged trail down to the falls is a bit tricky- you won’t be rolling a stroller down there for sure! The sound of the rushing water over the moss-coated rocks soothes the mind and soul. Take it in for a minute or an hour and it will rejuvenate you!
The variation of vegetation on both sides of the banks offer numerous shades of green that exemplify the rich palate that is our landscape.
This segment is part of a larger plan for the proposed Bay to Baker Trail. You can take the loop around the park or continue on the segmented Maple Falls to Glacier Trail. There is a reasonable amount of elevation gain if you do the loop, Rebecca pointed out.
If you choose to do the loop at the intersection with the “big tree” you can go left. We stayed to the right and headed towards Glacier (not as our destination) to visit the marathon landmark.
The old railroad grade provides a nice open walkway to get out on your own or with the family. The gentle slope and open canopy create a soft setting to enjoy the outdoors.
The historical highlight of the trail is a gate at the old Loup Farm. Rebecca is standing at the location of the infamous gate that was left open on August 10, 1911, by the Loup sisters on their farm. Their bull wandered out on to the tracks and derailed a train that one of the Mount Baker Marathon racers, Harvey Haggard, was riding back to the finish in Bellingham.
As the story goes, “Harvey Haggard beat Randall back to the train and departed for Bellingham, leaving Randall behind. En route, however, the train encountered a bull on the railroad tracks and derailed while Haggard was between changes of clothing. Clad in a robe, Haggard hitched a ride in a buggy, transferred to horseback, and then was picked up by a passing automobile after he was thrown by the horse.
Haggard crossed the finish line in Bellingham 13 hours after he started–32 minutes behind Joe Galbraith who had a much less eventful return trip. Joe Galbraith was declared the winner of the first Mount Baker Marathon and collected the official $100 purse. However, an appreciative crowd raised $50 for Haggard; the chamber contributed another $30; and the towns of Glacier and Maple Falls honored the racer for his pluck with $100.” Whatcom Museum.
Go check it out for yourself! You can continue on the trail to the bridge at Boulder Creek, from there the segmented trail connects to Glacier- but I’ll have to go back and explore that one another time. Hope to see you OUT THERE!
Read Adventures Northwest Magazine’s story: Mountain Runners – The Story of the Mount Baker Marathon