What a great way to start out the new year, snowshoeing up to Artist Point off Mt. Baker Highway. During the summer months you can drive all the way up to Artist Point on Mount Baker Highway, but during the winter the road is closed after the parking lot at Heather Meadows Ski Area. The trailhead to Artist Point is the last parking area on the Mount Baker Highway. When you get to Heather Meadows ski area, drive around Picture Lake (one-way) and past the ski lifts. The large parking area is on the right at the end of the road. The trail begins left of the bathroom facilities. Note, there is a clean and warm bathroom down below at the lodge. The pit toilets at the parking lot were smelling pretty rank when we were there, so if you need to go, it is just a short walk to the lodge.
Stats per WTA:
4 Miles round trip, 1,000 feet elevation gain, high point 5100 feet gain
*note we continued to Huntoon Point which is another 1.2 miles round trip, and 200 ft gain, high point 5150 feet.
No parking pass is required
For more info and driving directions see www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/artist-point-snowshoe
This is a popular destination, so there is almost always a clear track to follow. Most beginners can do this route, but there are some steeper sections that can be challenging. It is not worth making this trip on a cloudy day. Wait for a clear day for this outing. Also, be sure you check the NWAC website for avalanche conditions because there are a few places that can be avalanche prone.
On the first part of this trek, there may be multiple tracks on the relatively open, and flat area. You will come upon a couple of cabins at this point stay to the left of the cabins and head uphill. On this steep section you will follow the single track that borders the ski area boundary to Austin Pass on the way enjoy views of the Cascades to the North to Canada and of the back side of Table Mountain. (Stay off the ski slope/ out of the ski area).
From here, there may be multiple tracks to follow turn southwest (right) towards Artist point. You will start seeing great views of Mt. Shuksan in this section. Continue to follow the tracks up and make another right up the final steeper climb to Artist point where the summer parking area is located. (It is difficult to recognize the parking area from here, but it is there). From this point you will be able to see Baker, Table Mountain, Shukan and more! At the top of the ridge there were several snow campers…brrr, but what a view to wake up to!
From this point take a short side trip to Huntoon Point (another 1.2 miles roundtrip) for more sweeping views of Mt. Baker, Shuksan, Baker Lake and the Cascades. This was another trip where I took a ton of pictures. Bear with me 🙂 Thank you Lorri Kurth for an awesome outing!