Heather Meadows Hikes
The Heather Meadows area is an immensely popular late-summer hiking area. Access is easy, since the Mt. Baker Highway (Highway 542) ends at 4,700-foot Austin Pass, with trails branching out in all directions for all levels of ability. Easiest is the Artist Ridge Trail, a mile-long loop with interpretive signs and views all the way to Mt. Rainier on clear days. The first 200 feet are wheelchair-accessible. Another easy path, Fire and Ice Trail, is paved to an overlook above Bagley Lakes.
Starting at Austin Pass near the end of Mt. Baker Highway, the four-mile one-way hike to Lake Ann, one of the Cascades’ most beautiful high-country lakes, is a popular route with day hikers and the major approach trail to 9,127-foot Mt. Shuksan. Lake Ann Trail is often covered by snow till late summer.
From the end of Highway 542 at Artist Point, follow the steep 2.5-mile trail up lava cliffs to the appropriately named, flat-topped Table Mountain. Enjoy incredible views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan from here.
The 5.5-mile Chain Lakes Trail begins at the end of the road, traverses Table Mountain, and passes a series of alpine lakes. Beyond this, the trail climbs over Herrmann Saddle, enters the Bagley Lakes basin, and ends near the Mt. Baker Ski Area. For a return loop, take the Wild Goose Trail back to Artist Point.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition