"Waterfall lovers not scared of backcountry travel will appreciate the short but challenging hike to Heliotrope Falls, a rushing ribbon of water cutting into its own alpine chasm below snowy Heliotrope Ridge on the flanks of Mt. Baker in northwest Washington State. Two other waterfalls on the way up and a view of an icy blue-and-white receding glacier underneath Mt. Baker’s imposing peak are a few of the other attractions of the otherworldly trek to Heliotrope Falls.
From the well- marked trailhead, where a trail register beckons hikers to sign in and state whether they expect to come back that day or backpack in, the trail drops down into a typical Pacific Northwest forest, complete with lots of big Douglas fir and hemlock trees and a healthy smattering of boulders, nurse logs, moss, and epiphytes. Within a few hundred feet, the trail crosses a rushing, log-choked stream via a wooden footbridge and then starts ascending, soon passing a sign marking the boundary of the Mt. Baker Wilderness (a protected and roadless area within the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest)." Read more
"This hike provides a child with a chance to glimpse alpine wonders— to see a glacier headwall and its savage crevasses and to hear the groaning and cracking sounds of an icefall on a shoulder of Mount Baker. Many summit climbers use this route, so children may admire them at close range as well. While experienced hikers travel this route from early July, because three creek crossings are very difficult during the high-water periods of snowmelt, it is best to wait until late summer to take children." Read more
"This popular and historic trail offers perhaps the best opportunity on the north side (that is, the Mount Baker Highway side) to experience one of Mount Baker’s glaciers up close. In a little less than 3 miles, the trail ends at the toe of the Coleman Glacier, named for Edmund Coleman, who in 1868 became the first person to make it to the summit of Mount Baker. The sight of the snow-white river of ice pouring down the mountainside into a jumble of house-size blocks is truly spectacular, and this trail puts you right there. Those views and the somewhat easy accessibility ensure that on weekends you won’t be alone." Read more
"Intimate ice is what this hike is all about. Follow a well-trodden path to the scoured world of the Coleman Glacier, the largest of Baker’s dozen-plus glaciers. From along a steep heap of lateral moraine, stare down into a cavernous abyss of ice and compacted snow. Locate blue grottos in the crevasses of Baker’s frozen icing. Come in July for the lilies, September for the berries, October for the quiet, but don’t try this hike early in the season. The creeks are unbridged and are difficult enough to negotiate in dry periods." Read more
"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." Read more