Part of Mount Baker Highway closed next week

Eight miles of Mount Baker Highway will be closed for five days starting Monday, Oct. 20, so crews can remove about 100 dead, diseased or dying trees along the highway.

The section west of Mt. Baker Ski Area will be closed 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 24, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. That means drivers must get up there before 8 a.m. and won’t be able to come back down until after 4.

The trees are being removed to make winter driving safer for motorists, the DOT said. They are between the DOT maintenance building about 12 miles east of Glacier and the ski area.

“Completely closing the road allows us to safely and quickly remove these hazardous trees,” Bellingham Maintenance Superintendent Tony Hernandez said in a news release.

The DOT also is trying to avoid a repeat of 2012, when 175 trees toppled during a December storm and blocked the highway for three days.

When possible, the trees being cleared by crews next week will be allowed to decay where they fall; those that land on the highway will be pushed off to the side.

Stay updated on the project by going online to wsdot.wa.gov/Northwest/Baker/Construction.

Road work next week isn’t the only reason why motorists might want to get up to the mountains this weekend. The window is closing for access to Artist Point, which is open about three months each year before snowfall forces its closure in the early fall.

Located at the end of Mount Baker Highway more than 5,000 feet above sea level, Artist Point is a popular viewpoint that features 360-degree views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. It also is the jumping-off point for numerous stunning mountain hikes.

In 2013, the road closed Sept. 30.

In 2012, it closed Oct. 16.

The weekend forecast for near Artist Point is for partly sunny weather, especially on Sunday, with highs in the 40s and 50s.