This is a great easy day hike or backpacking trip east of Bellingham. There are a lot of great views of Mt. Baker and Shuksan all the way up the sunny, open trail and a lot of options for exploration once you’re at the top. And on your way back to Lynnwood, you can stop at La Fiamma in Bellingham for some post hike pizza!
We left Lynnwood early to get to the trailhead before the Bellingham crowds, but still ended up having to park up the road a bit. That’s o.k. The sun was shining.
The first 1.4 miles is moderate to easy hiking on a good trail, mostly in the open. The rest of the trail, to 3.5 miles, is easy. If you’re camping or want to explore the tarns below the butte, then your trail drops 200 feet steeply onto the plateau below. Or you can continue steeply upwards to the butte and some amazing views. The climb to the butte is steep and short; you might want to leave your pack at the bottom and pick it up on your way back down. Don’t miss the views from the top. They are incredible!
The tarns had many great options for camping. We were very happy that ours came with an infinity pool that overlooked Mt. Shuksan. The other campsites we saw were really good too. We brought a bear canister from the ranger station, which ended up being a good idea, because there wasn’t a lot of good trees for hanging a bear bag. The rangers ask that you pack out all your waste, so bring some wag bags or pick up some blue bags at the ranger station. The tarns provided us with good water to filter. If you’re staying for multiple nights, you can day hike to Tomyhoi peak, the top of the butte, or just explore the tarns.
We did this hike in early October, but had the best weather. It was sunny and hot on the hike in/out. The fall colors were incredible; the blueberry bushes were bright red. It got pretty cold as soon as the sun set at 6:30pm, but we stayed up to watch the stars come out, and they were fantastic. It wasn’t too buggy or windy the whole time either. We really lucked out.
Note: The local hikers seemed incredibly friendly. If you’re looking for some good trail conversation, you wont have to look for too long. This is a popular hike.
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