Chain Lakes Trail

Mount Baker Wilderness Area, Washington

Elevation Gain3,484ft
Trailhead Elevation4,412ft
Elevation Min/Max4227/5443ft
Elevation Start/End4412/4412ft

Chain Lakes Trail

Chain Lakes Trail is a hiking trail in Whatcom County, Washington. It is within Mount Baker Wilderness Area. It is 4.8 miles long and begins at 4,412 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,484 feet. The Artist Point viewpoint and the Heather Meadows Visitor Center ranger station are near the trailhead. There are also restrooms, parking, and a parking. Along the trail there is a viewpoint. This trail connects with the following: Table Mountain Trail, Fire and Ice Trail, Hayes Lake Trail, Us Forest Service Trail 682.1 and Ptarmigan Ridge Trail.

Chain Lakes Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Joan Burton
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"This group of four alpine lakes has enough scenic campsites with views to accommodate many families. If you wish, you can move camp from lake to lake along the chain and enjoy different views and different settings each day. Expect blueberries in August and September and fish in Hayes and Arbuthnot lakes anytime." Read more
Day Hiking: North Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Romano
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"Set against a backdrop of plateau-topped Table Mountain’s rock and ice are a half-dozen alpine lakes, each with its own flavor. Enjoy them on an amazing loop through talus slopes, deep forest, berry meadows, and windswept ridges. Take in breathtaking views of the frosty bookend giants, Baker and Shuksan. The beauty of Chain Lakes is unsurpassed. So too are the crowds that flock to this Heather Meadows highlight during its short hiking season." Read more
A FalconGuide to Mount Baker - Mount Shuksan Area (Falcon Guides)
Mike McQuaide
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"Looped day hikes—always a plus because every step is one through new territory—are hard to come by in the Mount Baker–Mount Shuksan area, which is probably why the Chain Lakes Loop is so popular. That and the scenery, which includes a little bit of everything that you could want in a North Cascades hike. There are the titular big mountains, of course, plus wildflower and blueberry meadows, scree (loose rock) slopes, lava cliffs, a high-alpine traverse with expansive unobstructed Cascade views and permanent snowfields, not to mention the peaceful, contemplative kettle lakes for which the trail is named. In the too-short era of the Mount Baker Lodge (1927–1931), pack horses would follow this loop as they took visitors on fishing excursions to the Chain Lakes." Read more
100 Classic Hikes Washington (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Romano
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"Hike around the barren, snowy slopes of mesa-like Table Mountain to a chain of a half-dozen of the prettiest alpine lakes in the North Cascades. Traverse shiny talus slopes, ancient forest groves, succulent berry patches, and windswept ridges—all with breathtaking views of frosty bookend giants Mounts Baker and Shuksan. Folks in epic numbers have been descending upon Heather Meadows since the 1920s when the Mount Baker Highway made its way here." Read more

Chain Lakes Trail Reviews

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This is a wonderful trail. I recommend starting from the ranger station and heading down toward the Bagley Lakes Trail before heading up the Chain Lakes Trail. If you park your car at the top, (Artist Point) you have to hike all the way back up there at the end and the views unfold so wonderfully coming from Bagley Lakes. Lots of people on the weekend, but go anyway. This is a real "Top of the World" hike.
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Entered from Artist Point and camped at Arbuthnet Lake on 8/11. The trail was in good shape with few snow patches. We did a day hike up Ptarmigan Ridge with the trail easy to find. We exited on 8/13 via Bagley Lakes with snow only at the saddle. We saw no rangers but did see camping at non designated camp sites around the lakes and excessive head counts at designated sites. Beautiful country. Hope it stays that way.

Chain Lakes Trail Photos

Trail Information

Mount Baker Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Mount Baker Wilderness Area
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Skill Level
Mount Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest, Glacier Public Service Center
Local Contacts
Green Trails Mount Shuksan No. 14
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018