“A forested trail with multiple stream crossings to spectacular views of Mt. Baker's Coleman Glacier.”
— Anne Travels
River/Creek · Views · Waterfall
$5 per day fee charged to park at trailhead; purchase a pass at the ranger station kiosk in the town of Glacier, or display an Interagency (America the Beautiful) or National Forest pass in the windshield of your vehicle.
The trail follows the same route as those climbing Mt. Baker for the first 2.8 miles. After the Climber's Trail diverges, views open up toward the peak of Mt. Baker and spectacular views up the Coleman Glacier. Four major stream crossings in the forest and meadows add adventure to the route, as well as lovely waterfalls.
Need to Know
Stream crossings are located at miles 1.6, 2.5, 2.9, and 3.1.
Do not try to access the glacier without proper gear and experience; merely descending to the glacier can be life-threatening without proper equipment and knowledge.
The trail from the parking area quickly descends to cross Grouse Creek via a bridge, then rises at a gentler pace through the forest. Early morning summer hikers will have the dubious pleasure of enjoying the numerous spider webs that crisscross the trail, sparkling with the early morning dew. Occasional peek-a-boo views allow for vistas of nearby hills and peaks. About 1.4 miles from the trailhead, the trail crosses a small stream with a lovely, tall waterfall; a quarter mile later, the trail crosses Kulshan Creek via rocks and logs. This is the first major stream crossing; early in the season expect knee-deep or deeper water. About 0.6 miles later, enjoy views of a multi-step waterfall on right. Soon after this viewpoint, a trail to a mountain toilet diverges left. Continue straight / right to continue ascending to the second major stream crossing a quarter mile later. This stream crossing, while no easier than the first, is often left unmarked on topo maps.
After another 0.3 miles, the trail splits, with the right trail heading toward the Climber's Camp and the trail to the Glacier going left. Turn left, enjoying the views that begin to appear of Mt. Baker and Coleman Glacier as the trees begin to thin. Only a tenth of a mile beyond the trail junction, cross the western arm of Heliotrope Creek; cross the eastern arm of the creek 0.3 miles later. Both of these streams are smaller than the previous two major stream crossings, but both offer challenges to those wishing to keep their feet dry, as both are fast-moving, are at least knee-deep, and are without many stepping stones.
Around the arms of Heliotrope Creek, social trails diverge in all directions. Try to stay on the main trail and continue east toward the rib of gravel / trees. Follow a trail about 0.1 miles up to the top of the rib to view the Coleman Glacier and up toward the cone of Mt. Baker.
History & Background
The first person to ascend Mt. Baker in recorded history used the Coleman Glacier as part of his ascent. His route is still used by many climbers today.