Scott Paul TrailScott Paul TrailScott Paul Trail




A Whatcom County hike


The Pacific Northwest Trail utilizes the Scott Paul Trail from the Schriebers Meadow area to its intersection with the Park Butte Trail. From there the PNT climbs on the Park Butte Trail to the intersection with the Mazama Park Trail. From there it descends into the South Fork of the Nooksack area and eventually enters Skagit County.

This is a high-elevation hike and should be done after the area is snow-free. In high water times and in very warm temperatures, creek crossings will be difficult or impossible so the hiker should pick a day without rain and a day that is not too hot.

Data: This hike is in the Mount Baker National Recreation Area. If the hiker takes the Park Butte Trail up toward Park Butte and the Mazama Park intersection, the hiker enters the wilderness and wilderness rules apply from that point on. A Forest Service parking permit is required to park at Schriebers Meadows. Elevation gain can be anywhere from 2000 to 5450 feet depending on other trails taken. Starting elevation at the trailhead is 3300 feet. SWITMO rates this hike as moderate to strenuous.

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 12 miles to USFS Road #12 and turn LEFT. Drive on this gravel road #12 for 3.5 miles and turn RIGHT on USFS Road #13. Follow this gravel road #13 for 5.2 miles where it ends at a large parking lot.

Hike Description: This hike will be described as a counter-clockwise loop hike with side trail options.

  • Locate the trailhead near the bathroom facility. In 500 feet the hiker comes to the beginning of the Scott Paul Trail---turn RIGHT .

  • Follow this well-made trail uphill through forest.

  • At about the 4600 foot elevation point and the 2.5 mile point, the trail makes a turn to the left, heading westerly. It climbs and falls, going in and out of small canyons, some with streams that must be forded. If it is a clear day the views will be fantastic. The hiker will feel that he/she can touch Mount Baker.

  • The trail will come to the Metcalfe Moraine and then descend into Rocky Creek, which drains melt water from the Easton Glacier, looming larger than life on the right. Look for rocks with yellow sulfur in them, a sign of volcanic activity.

  • The hiker must cross Rocky Creek. From July through sometime in September the Forest Service usually has a bridge here. The hiker should check with the Forest Service office in Sedro-Woolley to make sure that the bridge is there. Crossing this creek without a bridge can be done but it can be quite tricky.

  • On the other side of Rocky Creek the trail gradually climbs up onto the Railroad Grade Moraine and continues on to where it intersects with the Park Butte Trail, 6 miles from the trailhead.

  • Now the hiker needs to make a decision: (1.) To continue upward on the Park Butte Trail, which is the route of the PNT. Or (2.) To descend on the Park Butte Trail and return to the parking lot, making an 8 mile loop.

  • If choice (1.) is made, continue straight ahead at this intersection and gradually climb , coming out into an alpine area where magnificent Mount Baker comes into view.

  • The hiker will reach an intersection. Going slightly right, up hill, climbing the rock steps will lead the hiker to the Railroad Grade Trail will continues on the edge of the Railroad Grade Moraine all the way to High Camp, at 5500 foot elevation. This is a common starting point for climbers going up onto Mount Baker.

  • At this intersection, if the hiker continues on the left branch, the hiker will end up in Morovit’s Meadow. The trail crosses the Meadow and begins climbing up to Park Butte, visible on a high peak to the hikers left-of-center.

  • At 4800 foot elevation the trail to Mazama Park goes off on the right and descends. This is where the day hiker leaves the PNT. Again, the day hiker must make a decision---turn around and return or go up another half mile or so to Park Butte itself.

  • When the hiker is ready to return to the parking lot, he/she retraces their steps to the intersection of the Scott Paul Trail and the Park Butte Trail where he/she was earlier. To make a loop hike, do not go left on the Scott Paul Trail but go right, down hill on the Park Butte Trail.

  • Once the hiker has descended on a well-built trail to Rocky Creek, the hiker must rock-hop across Rocky Creek and its numerous side streams to reach the sturdy tread that goes through Schriebers Meadow and back to the parking lot. Sometimes there is a make-shift log bridge to help the hiker over some of the deeper parts of Rocky Creek.

Source: USGS

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