Whatcom County has plenty of ways to enjoy the winter months – from snowshoeing in the national forest to racing down the slopes of Mt. Baker on snowboard or skis.
10,781-foot Mount Baker is a popular destination in the winter for downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sledding. It’s a huge draw for locals, Western Washington University students and visitors from Canada and the Seattle area, especially. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest also attracts snowmobilers and sledding enthusiasts in the winter months.
Mt Baker Ski Area quick facts
- Mt. Baker Ski Area is located 52 miles east of Bellingham, WA on highway 542.
- Locals like to say Mt. Baker is where snowboarding was virtually invented (but skiers and snowboarders of all skills are welcome on the mountain of course).
- Mt. Baker Ski Area ranked 18th in the nation, and number one in the state of Washington, based on a survey of ski professionals by Skiing Magazine (2005).
- Mt. Baker holds the world’s record for highest annual snowfall with 1,140 inches in 1998-1999.
- Mt. Baker Ski Area has the longest ski season in Washington State (November through April), and the earliest snow in the state.
- Mt. Baker Ski area has 38 trails and 9 chairlifts (7 quads; 2 rope tows), and is perfect for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
- Runs: 11 beginner, 16 intermediate, 7 advanced, 4 expert.
- Average snowfall 647 inches (1,638 cm); Vertical rise 1,500 ft (455 m)
- Heather Meadows elevation 4,300 ft (1,300m).
- White Salmon elevation 3,500 ft (1,060m).
- Rideable Acreage: 1,000 acres.
- contact info: www.mtbaker.us; (360) 734-6711; (360) 671-0211 (snow report)
Mt. Baker Ski Area provides snowboarders and skiers with a variety of terrain, day lodges, ski lessons and rentals. Lifts run daily from 9 am-3:30 pm. Open operating days and hours wholly depend on conditions and weather. Weather and conditions can be a factor affecting the days and time of opening.
Passes and lift tickets/vouchers can be purchased at Mt. Baker Ski Area office (1019 Iowa St, Bellingham, WA 98229) or at the mountain during the ski season. Prices range from $57 for adult weekends & holidays to $36 for a super senior (70+) on non-holiday weekdays. Children ages 6 and under ski for free.
Chains are required by state law in your vehicle from November until April. Check with Washington State Department of Transportation for details.
Cross Country Skiing
There is a 4-kilometer trail which begins at the Heather Meadows ski area parking lot. Cost is by donation at a self-pay station at the trail head. Telemark skis are available for rent for a more challenging experience on the slopes.
Hannegan Pass provides up to 13 miles of cross-country ski trail depending on snow. Trails are groomed on a volunteer basis and is not guaranteed. Trail use is free, but a Sno-Park Permit is required to park at the trail head. The trail is located about 13 miles beyond the town of Glacier on the Mt. Baker Highway, State Route 542 (between mileposts 46/47), and is across the road from Silver Fir Campground (Razor Hone Road #3070 and Anderson Road #3071). For other trails and current trail conditions go to the Nooksack Nordic Ski Club website www.nooksacknordicskiclub.org.
Salmon Ridge Cross Country Trail
Managed by the Nooksack Nordic Ski Club
Snowshoers can use the Salmon Ridge Trail, but not in the ski tracks. Contact the Mt. Baker Ranger District in Sedro-Woolley for other trail information at (360) 856-5700 or Glacier Public Service Center at (360) 599-2714.
Snowshoeing trails off the Mt. Baker Highway (SR 542)
- Coal Pass, FS 39: Just east of the town of Glacier and milepost 34, turn south on Glacier Creek Rd/FS 39.
- Excelsior Trail: There is a sizeable parking lot at the trailhead on the north side of SR 542, east of milepost 42. A steep, forested trail leads to the open meadows of Welcome Pass. Route finding skills recommended.
- Hannegan Pass: Just east of the DOT equipment sheds by milepost 46. There is a sizeable parking area where Hannegan Road meets SR 542.
- Silver Fir Campground: Across from the large SnoPark east of milepost 46. Flat, amid old growth, by the Nooksack River.
- White Salmon Road: 2-mile snowshoe route starts near Mt. Baker Ski area at White Salmon Road, goes over Razor Hone Creek Recreation Bridge, then back up a diferent route to complete the loop.
- Bagley Lakes: Just west of Mt. Baker Ski Area. Drive SR 542 to the end. Park in the farthest corner of the farthest parking lot to access the Bagley Lakes Trail.
- Artist Point: Follow SR 542 to the end. Park in the farthest corner of the farthest parking lot.
There are two groomed trails off the Mt. Baker Highway 542; Canyon Creek (Road #31) and Glacier Creek (Road #39). Snowmobiling is allowed when the road systems are closed to vehicles and there is sufficient snow pack (24”). These trails are designated Washington State Sno-Park and you need to show your permit in your vehicle window when parked at Sno-Parks.
And if you are a snowmobile fan, this State Parks Web site has information on the Glacier and Canyon Creek Snoparks along the Mt. Baker Highway (State Route 542).
For customer & public safety, Mt. Baker Ski Area strictly prohibits sledding and snowplay within ski area boundaries. Sledding and snowplay may be exercised at your own risk on the National Forest Service land, located outside the ski area. Sledding is permitted and usually viable year-round outside of the ski area.
Fairhaven Bike & Mtn. Sports in Bellingham, (360) 733-4433
Glacier Ski Shop, (360) 599-1943
Mt. Baker Ski Area, (360) 734-6771
Mt. Baker Snowboard Shop, (360) 599-2008
REI in Bellingham, (360) 647-8955
Yeager’s in Bellingham, (360) 733-1080
Back Country Essentials in Bellingham, (360) 534-5678
Annual Events on Mt. Baker
Banked Slalom — Feb 19-22, 2015
Mt. Baker is home to the Legendary Banked Slalom (LBS), a snowboarding contest held annually since 1985 at Mt. Baker Ski Area, in Washington State near Bellingham. The LBS is regarded as the predecessor to the “boardercross” event, and has been won by some of the biggest names in the history of snowboarding. The winner receives a Duct Tape trophy and an embroidered Carhartt jacket.
The first race was held in 1985, organized by Bob Barci and Tom Sims. With only 14 riders at the top of the 500-foot-long (150 m) course, they raced through 15 gates with only a few spectators present. The decision to put on the banked slalom at Mt. Baker came about because it was one of the few ski areas in North America that welcomed snowboarders at that time.