06 Mar Snowshoeing Heather Meadows
During the winter months, Heather Meadows is at the end of the Mount Baker Highway. During the summer it’s a waypoint on the road to Artists’ Point, one of North America’s most stunning vistas. Heather Meadows is a magnet for local backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowshoe enthusiasts. Frequent storms roll in dumping loads of fresh powder and ensuring this is the place to go when you want to get out for a pleasant few hours in a spectacular setting that has no match.
After a recent storm, on a sunny day, the parking lot is nearly full as this area isn’t quite a secret amongst locals from nearby Bellingham and Vancouver. This can be a good thing if you are on snowshoes because you will find plenty of broken trails to wander along. Due to its northern location and a trailhead at 4200 feet, good snow coverage is virtually guaranteed from November to June. The weather is typical Washington: ever changing from sun to clouds to fog to wind, but never really bone-chilling cold. Dress in layers, warm boots and gloves advised.
When the previous night has dropped 10 to 12 inches of new snow, finding broken trails to use is a good thing in my opinion. They save a lot of energy so that you can do more exploring. Even though there can be a lot of people on the mountain there is so much available terrain that it never feels crowded. And there are plenty of opportunities to blaze your own trail should that be your ambition.
This area is surrounded by steep peaks and beautiful mountain lakes. Snow covered trails are not maintained or controlled for avalanches so some caution is necessary but much of the landscape is rolling and wide open in the valley between the peaks. If one is determined enough the trip to Artist Point is 4 miles roundtrip;it’s a popular destination so you will likely find tracks to follow. Because it does pass through avalanche terrain, caution is advised.
From Bellingham follow the Mount Baker Highway (SR 542) to the very end (55 miles). The trailhead to Artist Point is at the last parking area on the Mount Baker Highway. Upon arrival at Heather Meadows, continue to 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.