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Heliotrope Divide

Difficult
 4.6 (13) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A forested trail with multiple stream crossings to spectacular views of Mt. Baker's Coleman Glacier.


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Map Key

5.4

Miles

8.7

KM

Out and Back

5,236' 1,596 m

High

3,674' 1,120 m

Low

1,636' 499 m

Up

1,635' 498 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (7°)

38%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features 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.

Overview

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Anne Travels

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 13 votes

#714

Overall
  4.6 from 13 votes
5 Star
77%
4 Star
15%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
8%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#54

in Washington

#714

Overall
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2,286 Since Jan 16, 2017
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Photos

Mt. Baker's Cone and the Coleman Glacier pose for a photo taken from Heliotrope Divide.
Jan 16, 2017 near Peacefu…, WA

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Check-Ins

Oct 6, 2019
Rahul Katdare
Aug 29, 2019
Peter Wheeler
Came up 0.1 miles short of the top. Stream crossing was a little too intimidating;( 5.3mi
Jan 15, 2019
Amanda Lynn
5.4mi
Sep 23, 2018
Scott Kerr
Aug 14, 2018
Chris Urtz
Not a difficult trail except for the last water crossing (knee high in summer). Incredible alpine scenery and views of the glacier.
Jun 9, 2018
Dong Vo
Sep 25, 2017
Tyler Cline
Aug 22, 2017
Johanne Del Mar