Sauk Mountain Trail
Mount Baker National Forest
On a clear day, you can see nearly all of Washington State’s most famous landmarks just from the Sauk Mountain trail: Cascade Mountains to the east, Mt. Rainier to the south, Puget Sound and the San Juan islands to the west, and Mt. Baker to the north.
The summit of Sauk Mountain sits at 5,541 ft, but most of the climb to the top will be done in the car driving to the trailhead. Sauk Mountain Road connects the North Cascades Highway at 488 ft elevation to the trailhead at 4734 ft. The road is about 8 miles and is all gravel. While the road is steep, it is doable for most cars. Trail reports at the time told us that the last 0.2mi had a number of large potholes. Since we were driving a sedan, we decided to park on the last bend and walk the rest of the road to the trailhead. A truck or SUV with some clearance would have no trouble reaching the parking lot. A few feet along the trail from the parking lot, there is an outhouse.
Most of the trail consists of traversing switchbacks up the grassy slope of the mountain. Please try to stay on the trail, cutting the switchbacks erodes the landscape. At this elevation there are few trees.This means that you will have wide landscape views of the river and beyond almost the whole way. It also means you should definitely pack sunscreen on those summer days! When we hiked the trail in early July, there was still snow at the top. So if you go in early summer I would suggest packing microspikes and or hiking poles. You will need to wait until late summer or early fall for the trail to be completely clear.
Keep a lookout for wildlife, we saw marmot at the top and a young bear on the road as we were driving back down.
Click on the camera icons on the map below to see pictures along the route.
Photo Gallery (Click to Enlarge)
About the Author
Lauren K. www.wayscaped.com
Lauren works a regular 9-5 day job, but traveling and sharing her experiences is her passion. She prefers nature to the cities and her favorite vacations are ones that involve hiking in the mountains.