Outdoors

Heliotrope Ridge: Stunning view of glacier

This trail offers a moderate climb that brings you close enough to feel the cool air wafting from Mount Baker's Coleman Glacier.

Elevation gain: 1,400 to 2,300 feet.

Round trip: 6 to 8 miles.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Best times to hike: Through October.

Current conditions: The creek crossings can be dangerous, so be careful, and keep in mind the water runs higher in the afternoon.

Parking: Northwest Forest Pass required.

Highlights: This popular trail offers one of the best and safest opportunities to visit a glacier at close quarters. Whistling marmots serenade you while you glacier-gawk. Trail also offers stunning views of Mount Baker, the Black Buttes and countless cascading waterfalls.

Maps: Green Trails No. 13 Mount Baker, Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park complex, TOPO! North Cascades, Mt. Baker and Surrounding Wilderness Areas.

Getting there: From the Mount Baker Highway, take a right on Glacier Creek Road about a mile past the Glacier Public Service Center. Follow the winding road about eight miles to an obvious trailhead on the left.

Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. There have been break-ins.

The trail gradually climbs through open forest past waterfall views before passing the site of the old Kulshan Cabin about two miles up.

Just after the trail leaves the forest, stay left at a junction for an easy stroll, and some stream-hopping, to the lateral moraine overlooking awesome Coleman Glacier. Be careful!

A right at the junction leads to the "hog's back" or climber's route. Snow and ice at 6,000 feet blocks the way for hikers.

Source: "Hiking Whatcom County," by Ken Wilcox, Northwest Wild Books.

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