Upper Swift Creek TrailUpper Swift Creek TrailUpper Swift Creek Trail


Upper Swift Creek Trail


A Whatcom County hike


The Pacific Northwest Trail utilizes the historic Swift Creek Trail between the Mount Baker area and Baker Lake. This was the first trail built by the Forest Service in this area. The distance from Austin Pass to the Baker Hot Springs is about 8.5 miles but THERE IS NO BRIDGE OVER SWIFT CREEK so this hike description is for going part way down the Swift Creek Trail and then returning to Austin Pass.

This hike should be done after the Mount Baker Highway, State Route 542, is open to Artist Point. The Highway is usually open from July into September or maybe early October depending upon the snow. This hike is DOWN on the way in and UP on the way out so the hiker should pace himself/herself and have plenty of fluids and snacks to make the trip out as pleasant as possible. It is not advisable to do this hike in a heavy rain since creeks that must be crossed would be dangerous.

Data: This hike is in the Mount Baker Wilderness and wilderness rules apply. No more than 12 pairs of eyes in a party. For example a maximum of 12 hikers or 10 hikers and two dogs on leash. A Forest Service parking permit is required to park at Austin Pass.

Elevation loss on the way down is 2000 or more feet; which means an elevation gain of 2000 or more feet on the way back. SWITMO rates it as moderate.

Driving instructions: Drive east of Bellingham on the Mount Baker Highway, State Route 542. 23 miles east of the Glacier Public Service Center is Austin Pass with a large parking lot on the left. Elevation here is 4700 feet. Continuing a mile or more to the end of the road leads the visitor to spectacular Artist Point at 5100 feet elevation.

Hike Description:

  • Descend into a very scenic valley through alpine and forest areas 2.3 miles to the junction with the Lake Ann Trail. The Lake Ann Trail goes up, ahead, another 1.8 miles with a 900 foot elevation gain to Lake Ann and great views of Mount Shuksan.

  • The Swift Creek Trail goes RIGHT at the low point where the Lake Ann Trail begins to climb. The Swift Creek Trail gently descends through an alpine area with heather and other alpine plants.

  • Just how far the hiker descends, depends on the person. There are some significant streams to cross the farther one descends.

  • The hiker should turn around when he/she feels it is time and return, uphill, to Austin Pass

Source: USGS

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