Whatcom County Best Hikes: Heliotrope Ridge

Coleman Glacier near Mt Baker

Coleman Glacier near Mt Baker

There are not a lot of places in the world where you can hike right up to a glacier. Especially in a couple hours.

Heliotrop Ridge trailhead starts 8 miles up Glacier Creek Road, just a mile or so beyond the town of Glacier. The hike is 5 miles round trip and crosses several streams.

This is a late summer hike – it takes most of the summer to thaw the snow at the top of the trail.

It’s best to start early since glacial melt later in the day can make the last stream impassable on the way back – which is not a good thing.

You will get your feet wet on at least two of the streams. And the last one is deadly. The last time I hiked this trail we couldn’t get across the last stream. Jumping on to slippery rocks across rushing water is scary.

There are some nice waterfall views along the way and near the top you come into alpine meadows full of wildflowers.

Middle of a raging stream

Middle of a raging stream

Bring your camera. It’s stunning!

After you cross the last stream you are just a couple minutes from the glacier overlook. As you sit on at the overlook and eat your lunch you can hear marmots whistling and will occasionally see one going in and out of the rocks.

This hike gives you a taste of lots of great components of Whatcom County – Fir and Cedar forests, streams, waterfalls, meadows, wildlife, gorgeous views and a glacier.

On the way down the Mt Baker Hwy going back to Bellingham, either stop at Milano’s in Glacier for the best caesar salad and other tasty fare or North Fork Brewery (after mile marker 21) for great beer and pizza.