Heliotrope Ridge Trail

Sumas, Washington

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If you do only one hike in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, if you do only one hike all summer, let it be this one. Go equipped with camera and field glasses, and devote the whole day to the mountain. A well-graded forest trail makes the 3-km (2-mile) climb to the timber line a pleasure, after which comes some really splendid hiking across alpine meadows and marmot-inhabited screes, over bounding creeks to a moraine at the very lip of the Coleman glacier. You lunch beneath ancient, twisted trees overlooking the vast river of ice. Deeply crevassed and fissured, blue-green in its depths, dazzling on its wickedly jagged towers, the glacier at such close range is an awe-inspiring sight. You might be lucky enough to watch a party of climbers go out onto the ice, equipped with ropes and spikes. On no account go onto the ice yourself, not even at its black and gravelly edge. The snowfields above the moraine also are out of bounds for hikers lacking experience and equipment. August is early enough for this trail. Even then, you may need boldness and ingenuity to cross the rushing creeks. But this whole hike is an adventure.
Easy Hiking Around Vancouver

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Easy Hiking Around Vancouver

by Jean Cousins (Greystone Books)

If you do only one hike in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, if you do only one hike all summer, let it be this one. Go equipped with camera and field glasses, and devote the whole day to the mountain. A well-graded forest trail makes the 3-km (2-mile) climb to the timber line a pleasure, after which comes some really splendid hiking across alpine meadows and marmot-inhabited screes, over bounding creeks to a moraine at the very lip of the Coleman glacier. You lunch beneath ancient, twisted trees overlooking the vast river of ice.

Deeply crevassed and fissured, blue-green in its depths, dazzling on its wickedly jagged towers, the glacier at such close range is an awe-inspiring sight. You might be lucky enough to watch a party of climbers go out onto the ice, equipped with ropes and spikes. On no account go onto the ice yourself, not even at its black and gravelly edge. The snowfields above the moraine also are out of bounds for hikers lacking experience and equipment. August is early enough for this trail. Even then, you may need boldness and ingenuity to cross the rushing creeks. But this whole hike is an adventure.

©  Jean Cousins/Greystone Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Sumas
Distance: 5.5
Elevation Gain: 1,900 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Duration: Allow 5 hours
Season: Best August to September
Driving Directions: Directions to Heliotrope Ridge Trail

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