Take caution and check for road closures due to wildfires in the North Cascades.

4 Snowshoe Routes on the Mount Baker Highway

“Deepest Snowbase in North America!”

It’s a headline often displayed proudly on the Mt. Baker Ski Area website during winter. These words inspire legions of skiers and snowboarders to drive the scenic Mount Baker Highway in search of Baker’s world-class powder. And it’s good news for the rest of us, too. If you prefer simply walking in the snow, snowshoeing at Mount Baker may be the winter activity for you.

Summer in Bellingham means epic hiking in the North Cascades and Mount Baker area. But winter brings its own beauty. For hikers, snowshoeing is a low-barrier way to get outside during the snowy months. Rentals are relatively inexpensive, and you can buy a pair of snowshoes for far less than you‘d spend on ski equipment. Once you’re out on the trail, there’s not much of a learning curve, either. Snowshoeing is simply walking through the snow in oversized shoes. 

The Mount Baker Highway offers endless snowshoe routes for beginners and experienced snowshoers alike. Here are four recommended routes to get you started. 

Break into snowshoeing on Mt. Baker with an easygoing, low-elevation ramble.

Parking: Sno-Park permit required

Grab the family and plan for a casual, powdery romp at this non-motorized Sno-Park. Some years you can even find ample amounts of snow in March. If the snow is fresh, make your own path through the fluffy stuff to the edge of the North Fork Nooksack River.

Salmon Ridge is a great option if you don’t want to drive all the way to the Mount Baker Ski Area to snowshoe. Located at mile 46 of the Mount Baker Highway, Salmon Ridge Sno-Park is a groomed cross-country ski area maintained by Washington State Parks. Snowshoers can access several designated trails, or make their own.

Visit the Nooksack Nordic Ski Club website for maps and more information. Remember, no dogs or snowshoes are allowed on groomed ski tracks!

Parking: Northwest Forest Pass required

Hannegan Pass offers easy-to-access and family-friendly snowshoeing when the snow level is low enough.

According to an article in AdventuresNW Magazine, “The first mile is on an easy grade with some classic views of Mt. Shuksan and the usually free-flowing Nooksack River (scenic highlights of the trip), then the road steepens for the last two miles in the trees. Beyond this point, there is significant avalanche hazard and travel is not recommended.”

Parking is located just east of the DOT equipment sheds, by milepost 46 on the Mount Baker Highway. There is a sizeable parking area (Shuksan Picnic Area) where Hannegan Road meets the highway.

Parking: No pass required

White Salmon Road is famous for offering beginner-friendly snowshoeing. There are two access points for this snowshoe. Ample parking is available at the White Salmon ski lodge parking lot, though you may have to clamber over a pile of plowed snow to reach the “Ridge Road”. The lot also gives you easy access to the lodge facilities. However, the trail can be tricky to find from here and you should be prepared for a steep descent in the beginning. Alternatively, you can park at a hairpin turn in Mount Baker Highway at White Salmon Road.

After finding parking, it's a fun, mostly level and easy walk through the quiet forest with occasional Mount Shuksan views. After sloping downhill for a bit and climbing to “The Knob”, enjoy a lunch overlooking the North Fork Nooksack River.

Consider the snowshoe to Artist Point for a more significant challenge and reward.

Artist Point Snowshoe

  • Elevation at trailhead: 4,200 feet
  • Parking: The trailhead is located at the last parking area off of Mount Baker Highway. No pass is required.

A large parking lot and hiking area during summer, Artist Point is completely covered in snow during the winter with unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains. If you feel comfortable on snowshoes and don’t mind a climb, the trek to Artist Point is your best bet for Mount Baker views on a clear day.

Avalanche Safety

Consider snowshoeing to Artist Point and other areas above treeline during clear weather for safety (and the best views). It’s advisable to check avalanche conditions via the Northwest Avalanche Center before departing. REI also offers frequent, free courses at their Bellingham location about Snowshoeing Basics and Avalanche Awareness.

Forecast and Additional Info

Check the Mount Baker Ski Area Snow Report for current snowpack conditions. The Nooksack Nordic Ski Club offers useful forecast links as well.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
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Phone: 360-671-3990

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