It’s the middle of summer. It’s hot.
What’s the best way to beat the heat?
Ice cream is good. So is jumping in the lake.
It’s one of the benefits of living so close to Mt. Baker.
At 5,100 feet above sea level, Artist Point on Mt. Baker is the terminus of Highway 542 – the literal end of the road, and snow is often still abundant in mid summer.
The elevation makes this road unpassable much of the year. The road typically closes when the first snow flies in October and remains closed until June, which means there’s often abundant snow for summertime sledding.
In our search for summertime snow, we first made a quick stop to fuel up our bellies at LaFeens Donuts in Bellingham, a favorite of locals located across from Whatcom Falls park.
Then we settled in for a picturesque drive along the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway, taking us through farmland then densely wooded forest before giving way to the wind-gnarled trees and amazing vistas of Mt. Baker.
Unfortunately, those vistas were marred by the haze covering the region during the recent wildfires to the north in Canada. Nonetheless, we had some spectacular views. The littlest, 6-year-old Kaylee, hadn’t been to Baker before. She was truly captivated by the tall peaks above us, the mountain lakes, and the pretty wildflowers that bloom in the summer.
Our first stop on the mountain was at the Austin Pass Picnic Area at Heather Meadows. After our 90-plus minute drive up the hill, we welcomed the chance to stretch our legs.
“I see snow!” I sung out as we reached Heather Meadows. My announcement was met with a chorus of cheers from the back of the minivan.
Naturally, our first stop was a snow field ringed with wildflowers near the parking area. (Reminder, you do need a parking pass.)
We then explored the trails around the picnic area and the historic Visitors Center. I could have stayed here exploring the trails all afternoon, but I’d promised sledding, so we headed up the road about a mile further to our final destination at Artist Point.
We weren’t disappointed as we pulled into the parking lot at Artist Point. The snow atop the rocky landscape looked almost other-worldly, especially with the hazy skies. Vast snow fields beckoned to the kids to come sledding! So after a quick lunch sitting on some of the few rocks not covered in snow (Artist Point has public restrooms but no picnic tables), we hit the slopes.
We had dressed in layers and packed gloves and warm coats in preparation for the cold snow, but it turned out the temperature was much hotter than the weather report I had read earlier that morning. Nearing 80 degrees, jeans and T-shirts were just right for our sledding adventure.
We sledded for about an hour before finally pooping out. With big grins on their faces, the kids piled back into the minivan for our trip back down the mountain.
It was AMAZING how quiet the kids were on the ride down the mountain. Always the sign of a good time in the outdoors.