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Ptarmigan Ridge Out and Back

  4.6 ( 5 ) Favorite


8.5 mile 13.8 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 1,529' 466 m
Descent: -1,529' -466 m
High: 6,117' 1,865 m
Low: 5,030' 1,533 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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Trail shared by Anne Travels


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Jaw-dropping views of Mt. Baker and spectacular views of Mt. Shuksan on this ridge trail with perennial snowfields.

Anne Travels

Features Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly A good trail with great views not far from the trailhead.

The road to Artist Point is closed from fall through early summer, often opening in mid to late July. The Ptarmigan Ridge Trail is 70+% snow covered well into the summer months, requiring an ice ax well into or through July. A $5 per day pass is required to park at Artist Point (waived with federal Interagency passes and national forest passes). No fee machine is located in the parking area; use the 24-hour pass machine at the ranger station in the town of Glacier.


This trail provides some of the best views in the Mt. Baker Wilderness of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. A snowfield at mile 2 makes for an interesting diversion from the views, while a viewpoint at mile 3.5 offers a shorter option.

Need to Know

An ice ax will be required into the summer months, often until late July or early August. Don't forget your Federal Interagency or National Forest Pass to put in the windshield of your vehicle - they check, in the day and the night!


Leave the stunning views of Mt. Baker from in the parking lot to follow the Chain Lakes Trail as it descends into the trees. After the trail enters the Mt. Baker Wilderness at mile 0.75, stunning views open up of Mt. Baker. The views continue to improve for another 0.3 miles to the trail junction, with the Chain Lakes Trail continuing right while the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail turns left, downhill.

Turn left and descend at an alarming rate along the side of the ridge with ever more spectacular views of Mt. Baker. This section contains some of the most spectacular views of Baker in the region - nothing but a valley and a ridgeline separates the hiker from the volcano. This section of trail is also lovely, with brilliantly colored moss and wildflowers in season along with tiny rivulets and small streams.

About 2 miles from the trailhead - dependent on the time of year, snowmelt, etc. - scramble up the permanent snowfield to a saddle in the ridgeline, trading the views of Mt. Baker for spectacular views toward Mt. Shuksan. Follow the trail as it continues up and then along the side of the ridge, first through heather and huckleberry bushes and then along the exposed rocky side of the ridge. A mile beyond the saddle, arrive at viewpoint of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. This is an excellent place to turn around for a 7-mile hike.

Continuing along the side of the ridge, the trail rounds Coleman Pinnacle about a mile later. Views here are jaw-dropping of Mt. Baker, with nothing but a valley between the hiker and the big mountain. The glaciers are especially spectacular, along with an occasional waterfall. Hikers can turn around here or continue through meadows and low trees to a meadow a half mile later or continue even further with more spectacular views of Mt. Baker and surrounding scenery.

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Aug 14, 2019
Raj Hiker
Jul 26, 2019
Nick Dupuis
9mi — 5h 00m
Aug 19, 2017
Lee Mosher
Sep 21, 2016
Mark Ulmer
Overnight at the lake. 10mi — 6h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes


  4.6 from 5 votes
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