Flies, Flies, Flies!!! I think this is the first time I have turned back on a trail due to the bugs. The flies swarmed us from the moment we stepped out of the car, terrible. Deet helped a little bit, but ugh. At about 1.5 miles up Aster Butte we gave up and turned back. Several hikers told us it got better, but we were not patient enough to deal with the bugs today.
Here are the stats for the Yellow Aster Butte trail should you make it to the top:
7.5 miles round trip, 2550 ft gain, Highest point 6150 ft.
Northwest Forest Pass Required
For more info/directions see: wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/yellow-aster-butte
The driving directions on the WTA page were not great. We missed the turn off and ended up driving all the way up to Artist’s Point before coming back to the correct turn. The turn-off is at Twin Lakes Road. Keep a sharp eye out for the WSDOT Shuksan maintenance facility. Once off the highway the dirt road is narrow and bumpy. Recommend a SUV going up, although we did have a sedan that made it up fine.
The trail itself seemed nice except for the bugs. We gained about 1500 ft in the first mile and a half so we at least got a good work-out. There are some nice views of Mt. Baker on the way and the fall colors were already starting to come out. Our group may try to return in the fall when the bugs are gone. If planning to go on this hike, bring plenty of water as it is somewhat exposed.
When we gave up on this trail we headed back up to Artist’s Point and hiked for a bit along the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail. Due to it being later in the day at this point we just hiked a short distance in, but the views here were amazing. I would love to return. There were no bugs higher up.
Here are the Ptarmigan Ridge stats if you do the whole trail:
9 miles round trip, 1350 ft elevation gain, high point 6100 ft.
See: wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ptarmigan-ridge for more info.
There are several trails from the Artist’s Point parking lot, just be prepared to join a lot of people at the start of the trails as this is a touristy spot.
All I have to say about this trail is WOW! Beautiful! Amazing! Just need to get rid of the large number of people on the first part of the trail. The trail itself is pretty easy, a few rocky bits but the elevation gain was not much. I am looking forward to the possibility of snowshoeing here this winter.
Look closely at your surroundings. There were little waterfalls coming down off the cliffs, a family of goats in one of the meadows, a lake in the far distance and many far-off mountain peaks.