Thursday, July 13th, 2017
Summer Hiking in Mt Baker Wilderness to Hannegan Pass and Peak
Todd Elsworth

I spent the night at Silver Fir Campground on the Mount Baker Highway to enjoy the sound of the North Fork of the Nooksack River flowing by as I comfortably laid in my tent. The campground is 12 miles passed Glacier and offers an excellent base camp for exploring the Mount Baker Wilderness. There are so many great hikes to choose from in close proximity. My choice was Hannegan Pass and Peak. It was a lovely summer day and the wildflowers and butterflies were in abundance.


The trail rises up as it ascends into the Ruth Creek watershed. The flowers offered a bounty of colors to delight the eye on the walk.


Butterflies and bumble bees were flying everywhere. It was such a great sight to have the variety of colors lining the trail. The pollinators were working overtime flying from stamen to stamen spreading the pollen they’d collect at each stop.


As you walk up the trail it will cross several little streams and upland waterfalls. The views across the valley resound with cascading waterfalls across the landscape. It was an unseasonably hot day so the water was charging down slopes all around.


The abundance of butterflies both in variety and quantities was remarkable. They would fly out in front of me leading the way down the trail. As I looked down on the ground, I thought at first that a bumblebee was stinging a butterfly and wrestling around with it on the ground. Further inspection led me to discover that it was actually a couple copulating. Birds, Bees and Butterflies too!


Along the way, I passed a friend of mine who had been camping for the night at the Hannegan Pass Campground. She spent the evening atop the peak and enjoyed the incredible views into the twilight. I reached Hannegan Pass and took a break to fuel up for the climb ahead. The boardwalk below crosses the creek and features a magnificent waterfall just downstream.


As I made my way up the trail to Hannegan Peak the AC DC song “It’s a Long Way to the Top” rung in my head. It’s the 1000′ climb in a mile that really gets the heart pumping. Of course, there were people trail running up and down as I made my steady steps.

“At the summit, enjoy 360 degree views of Cascade peaks, including Goat Mountain, the High Divide, and the Nooksack Ridge to the west. To the north are the peaks of British Columbia and the remote Silesia Creek valley, and to the east, Copper Ridge is visible, as well as Mount Redoubt in the distance. But the southern view is by far the most commanding, with in-your-face vistas of Mount Baker and Ruth Mountain, as well as Mount Shuksan, the East Nooksack Glacier and the Nooksack Tower.” WTA-Hannegan Pass and Peak


Ruth Mountain and North Cascades National Park

A photographer friend’s tagline is “Who has time for a thousand words?”

The views from the summit speak for themselves. Here’s a few:

Hannegan Peak

Ruth Mountain – Mount Shuksan

Hannegan Peak

Mount Shuksan – Mount Baker


Mount Shuksan


Mount Baker in background

The 360 degree views from the top are epic – considering what you are looking at all around.

From Glacier, travel east on The Mt. Baker Highway SR 542 for 12.5 miles past the Glacier Public Service Center. Turn left on Hannegan Pass Road #32. Follow Road #32 for 5.3 miles to the Hannegan Trailhead parking at the end of the road. Source: USFS-Hannegan Peak.

Remember your Recreation Pass! You can get one online or at the Glacier Public Service Center.

For more hiking and outdoor ideas near Mt. Baker and Bellingham, WA see our hiking page or the full list of Todd’s Local Insider articles.


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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at