Try This Trail: Skyline Divide

Rating: Moderate

Distance: 9 miles round trip

Skyline Divide is one of Washington’s supreme wildflower hikes. While your nose will be to the ground admiring asters, lupine, bistorts and valerian, the views from this 6,000-foot plus ridge are pretty spectacular too.

Immediately begin climbing as you cross by beautiful stands of mature silver fir. At two miles crest a 5,900-foot grassy knoll, which presents the majestic Mount Baker. Look out to other impressive peaks too: Shuksan, Ruth, Table, Goat, Winchester, and BC’s cloud-probing Cheam Range and Mount McGuire. This is a good place to stop for a short hike—but it only gets better down the trail.

Carry on, dropping a little into a small saddle before heading up to the next bump, a 6,215-foot knoll. With Baker now breathing down on you and striking a small resemblance to Rainier from this angle, come to an unmarked junction at 3.5 miles in a small saddle. The trail left continues for one mile, dropping a couple hundred feet into a wild peaceful basin.

The trail right continues on a rougher route along the divide and climbs higher. Over ledges and through Krumholtz and heather, work your way up to yet another knoll—number six, if you're keeping track. Call it quits on this 6,563-foot summit. Venturing beyond to Chowder Ridge is strictly for climbers and goats.

Watch For: Mountain goats!
     
Getting there: From Seattle, take I-5 north to Exit 255 in Bellingham. Then follow SR 542 (Mount Baker Highway) east for 35 miles turning right onto FR 39 (Glacier Creek Road). Immediately turn left onto FR 37, reaching trailhead at 12.8 miles.

Note: Northwest Forest Pass Required

Craig Romano is the author of nine Washington hiking books, including Day Hiking North Cascades.

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