Topping out at a lofty 10,778 feet, Mount Baker (aka sleeping straovolcano) is one of the most heavily glaciated peaks in the Cascade Range, covered year-round on its upper flanks with a cloak of ice and hardened snow. In spring, foliage and flowers appear at the base of Baker and ice-free streams flow freely right into summer, when alpine meadows throw their own quilt of color over Baker's flanks, and North Fork Nooksack River burbles blue-green with cold run-off waters. Fall ushers in first frosts and trees turn to brilliant reds and yellows, before succumbing to winter snows, which envelope the area and provide a new range of recreational opportunities.
There are more than 400 miles of trails around Mount Baker, ranging from hour-long hikes to longer overnight trips. For views of the Cascades, choose from a number of trails that climb up out of the trees, usually steeply; if you're after vistas without the work, hike a mile-long loop in popular Heather Meadow at the end of Mt. Baker Highway, also the access point for hikes to Lake Ann, Table Mountain or 9,127-foot Mt. Shuksan. Determined backpackers with time to spare can also tackle some of the lengthier trails that criss-cross North Cascades National Park to the east for access to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia or the last stretch of the Pacific Coast Scenic Trail - just be sure to get the appropriate permits before you start.
Rafters ride the Nooksack River during warmer months, which boasts rapids of the manageable Class II-III variety over the eight-mile stretch run by local rafting tours. If you'd rather float alone, go to slower sections of the Nooksak River -- best is the South Fork of the river.
When snow keeps hikers home, skiers hit the slopes of Mt. Baker Ski Resort, where average snowfall is 647 inches. Cross-country and back-country skiers are not left out in the cold either - miles of trails around the ski area are designed for those seeking nothing but the sound of their own skis sliding through fresh powder.The base of Mount Baker is approximately 35 miles east of Bellingham and southeast of Vancouver, British Columbia.