The Hiker Mama

Chain Lakes

Distance: 4.7 miles (from Artist Point Trailhead)

Elevation Gain: 760 feet

Season: Late summer through early fall

Maps: Green Trails No. 14 Mt. Shuksan

Description: Subalpine lakes, rocks, wildflowers, fall colors, views of two majestic mountains – this hike has it all. Many trail descriptions begin at the Bagley Lakes trialhead, and involve a long loop with significant elevation gain and loss. Young children will appreciate starting at Artist Point, staying high and keeping the elevation gain and loss more manageable. From the Artist Point trailhead, head west, declining a bit before traversing a long, rocky slope. Mt. Baker towers above, clouds blow in and around, and views to the south show Baker Lake poking out down below. At around one mile, reach the high point of the ridge and turn right onto the Chain Lakes Trail. You’ll then head down again (you’ll need to climb back up this part on the way back!) and reach the first of the Chain Lakes, Mazama Lake. Campsites are available here, but continue on through a delightful meadow and you’ll soon reach the very scenic Iceberg Lake. This makes a fine spot for a rest, or you can continue on to the next two lakes and find a quiet spot for reflection and rest. Campsites are also scattered near those lakes. This hike is particularly nice in the early fall, as foliage begins to change color.

Directions: From Bellingham, drive on Highway 542 for 59 miles to the end of the road at Artist Point. It’s a large parking lot; privy available. You’ll need a NWForest Pass to park.