Skyline Divide, located near Glacier, WA, is a breathtaking hike with beautiful wildflowers in the summertime and unparalleled views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and the North Cascades. My friends Grace and Margaret had never hiked it before, and after finding out a tree that had been blocking the road had been removed, we decided to go for it! At 5:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 29th, we all met up at the Ash Way Park and Ride, piled into my Subaru with Margaret's dogs, Heidi and Badger, and headed for the trailhead.
We started our hike a little after 8:00 a.m., ascending 1500 feet over 1.9 miles on the moderately steep, mostly shady trail. As we emerged onto the ridgeline, we stood in awe at the phenomenal views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker, and meadows of aster, bistort, lupine, phlox, and other wildflowers blooming along the hillside. Mini snowfields dotted the ridge--not big enough to require microspikes, but a nice size for Heidi and Badger to roll, play, and eat snow from :) We hiked another 2.7 miles along a rolling series of knolls, reaching the last knoll at about 12:00 p.m.
Tired, hot, and exhilarated, we soaked in the commanding views of Mount Baker, Colfax Peak, Lincoln Peak, and the Twin Sisters Range to the south, Mount Shuksan to the east, Tomyhoi Peak and Mount Larrabee to the northeast, and Church Mountain to the northwest. Coleman Glacier was just visible too, and we enjoyed the perspective of seeing the Heliotrope Ridge Trail and the Coleman-Deming climbing route to the summit of Mount Baker.
After lunch--and a lot of bug swatting--we started hiking back at 1:00 p.m. and reached the car a little before 4:00 p.m. Overall, we clocked a 9.2 mile roundtrip hike with 3300 feet cumulative elevation gain.
All in all, it was a fantastic day! The weather was clear and we had phenomenal mountain views. We all enjoyed the company of the dogs, and ended up playing with fetch them in the snowfields with snowballs and making our own snow angels. Eventually we just sat in the snowfields for a while to cool off, too :)
A few tips and thoughts:
- A nice place for a pit stop on the drive to the trailhead is the Glacier Public Service Center, whose restrooms are generally open and clean early the morning. There is one vault toilet at the trailhead too.
- Bring a hat, sunscreen, and extra water; the trail is fully exposed with little shade along the ridgeline.
- Wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and bring bug spray to help deflect voracious bugs.
- A nice post-hike treat is an ice cream cone at Graham's Store in Glacier. Grace and I liked their maple nut ice cream.
- An early, 8:00 a.m. start at the trailhead gave us lots of quiet time--we encountered only three people on our way to the summit, versus upwards of 20-30 people on the way back. The trail never felt crowded.
- A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead. An America the Beautiful Pass will work too.