Lower Swift Creek TrailLower Swift Creek TrailLower Swift Creek Trail




A Whatcom County hike


On this hike the hiker really feels that he/she is in a wild place, far from civilization. This hike is on the lower part of the historic Swift Creek Trail. The distance from the Baker Hot Springs parking lot to Austin Pass by way of the Swift Creek Trail is 8.5 miles but THERE IS NO BRIDGE OVER SWIFT CREEK so this hike description is for going part way up the trail to Swift Creek and then returning to the trailhead. The long distance PNT hiker has to ford Swift Creek at a safe location when the water level is not too high.

This hike necessitates that the hiker cross Rainbow Creek on a log crossing. From Spring to Fall there is usually a log crossing with a hand cable. (See hike description below.)

Data: The first half mile of this hike is in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest and the rest of it is in the Mount Baker Wilderness. Wilderness rules apply on the far side of Rainbow Creek. No more than 12 pairs of eyes in a party. For example, 12 people or 9 people and 3 dogs on leash. A Forest Service parking permit is required to park at the trailhead. Elevation gain of several hundred feet. SWITMO rates it as moderate due to the crossing of Rainbow Creek. SWITMO maintains the Swift Creek Trail below the junction with the Lake Ann Trail all the way to the lower trailhead near Baker Hot Springs.

Driving instructions: Drive east of Sedro-Woolley on State Route 20. At about milepost 82.5, turn LEFT onto the Baker Lake Road. Drive northerly on the Baker Lake Road about 18 miles to USFS Road #1130 which is the first LEFT after crossing the curving, Boulder Creek Bridge. As one drives up this gravel Forest Service road, stay RIGHT at all intersections, the second one being the road that descends to the end of the road at the Baker Hot Springs parking lot.

Hike Description:

  • From the parking lot, walk past the concrete barriers and descend on an old road, which has drainage dips, a little over a tenth of a mile to the trailhead which will be on your left.

  • Hike down the trail to Rainbow Creek. Stay on the left side of Rainbow Creek following the tread which eventually goes out onto the rocky sides of the Creek. There may also be flagging the hiker can follow.

  • Stay on the left side of the Creek until you find a log crossing which is usually fitted with a hand cable from spring through fall. Rainbow Creek is a meandering creek and can change into a raging river at high water periods. A number of previous log crossings have been swept away during these times.

  • Once on the far side of Rainbow Creek, make your way to the forest. Again, there may be some flagging and there may also be some cairns to follow.

  • Locate the trail in the trees amidst the mossy forest floor.

  • Follow this trail for a little over 2 miles until you come to Swift Creek and the turn around point for this hike.

Source: USGS

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