Getting Kids Out Into Nature

East Bank Baker Lake

Distance: This trail runs 14 miles along the east bank of Baker Lake. You can go as far as you like from the north or the south.

Elevation Gain: Varies, up to 500 feet depending on how far you go.

Highest Elevation: 1000 feet.

Season: Year round.

Description: This trail meanders through lush, mature second growth and old growth forests on the bank of Baker Lake. Choose between two trailheads, the North and the South. The North Trailhead shares a large parking area with the Baker River Trail. You’ll start off sharing the trail, too, walking near the Baker River where it empties into the lake. After 1/2 mile, you’ll come to a junction where you can take a right turn and cross the Baker River on a cool suspension bridge. The trail then heads southward and remains somewhat away from the lake shore. You’ll cross some pretty streams and rock falls, and enjoy the mossy undergrowth of the damp forest. Wander as far as you like down the trail, but don’t expect great lake access for playing in the water. [Caution: The bridge over Happy Creek was damaged; you’ll need to turn around there until it gets repaired. Monitor wta.org for current trail conditions.]

The South Trailhead starts off in forest dripping with moss and lush with ferns. It’s peaceful and green, and children will enjoy finding the remnants of giant old trees. Kids will be interested to learn that the evidence of fires they see is from a volcanic eruption and subsequent forest fire in the 1800s. The trail crosses several streams on wooden bridges, and then around 1 mile crosses Anderson Creek on a sturdy log bridge. When we were there several years ago, there was a wire hand rail for balance; some children will not like crossing the raging creek on this bridge, and this would make a good turn-around point. From here the trail goes down close to the lake, and this is your first good view of and access to the water. It then winds up a short slope to the first camping area, where you will find some places to snack and enjoy the views, as well as a box toilet. If you have the energy to continue farther, Maple Camp is another 2 miles up the lake. [Caution: The bridge over Anderson Creek was damaged; you’ll need to turn around there until it gets repaired. Monitor wta.org for current trail conditions.]

Directions: North Trailhead: From I-5, take Exit 230 in Burlington for the North Cascades Highway (Hwy 20) and head east. Travel east for 23 miles and turn left/north onto Baker Lake Road. Continue on this road for 26 miles to its end and the parking area. The name of the road changes to Forest Road 11, and the pavement ends around mile 23. There is a privy at the trailhead. You’ll need your NW Forest Pass to park.

South Trailhead: From I-5, take Exit 230 in Burlington for the North Cascades Highway (Hwy 20) and head east. Travel east for 23 miles and turn left/north onto Baker Lake Road. After approximately 14 miles, turn right onto the Baker Dam – Baker Campground Road. Cross the Upper Baker Dam after 1 mile (there is a small parking area on the far side if children want to get out of the car and look at the dam.) In 2 miles, turn left on Road 1107; drive for another 1.5 miles to the trailhead parking area. There is a pit toilet at this trailhead.

Links:  Read our trip report from the Southern Trailhead here. Read about the North Trailhead on WTA.org.