The North Cascades are commonly thought of a summer destination, but it’s not as if the breathtaking vistas within suddenly hide themselves come winter. Views of jagged peaks like Shuksan or the majestic Mt. Baker are still there, waiting for anyone who feels enticed by a snow-filled adventure to enjoy come enjoy them. If yous strap on your snowshoes and take off from the Mt. Baker Highway, you’ll be in for a memorable winter escapade.
What Makes It Great
Exploring the North Cascades in the winter may seem like an adventurous feat, but Artist Point makes for an approachable objective. On a clear day, the contrast between bright white landscapes and cobalt blue skies can’t be beat. Plus, at the end of the day, ending at the Mt. Baker Ski Area means that a celebratory hot chocolate or beer will be close at hand.
The 5.5-mile round-trip trek from the Mt. Baker Ski Area to Kulshan Ridge – the top of which is commonly referred to as Artist Point – is a snowshoer's utopia. Passing over powdery hills dotted with deep green evergreens cloaked in white, with views of Mt. Baker throughout, there’s not a dull point on the whole journey. While access within the North Cascades becomes much more limited during winter months, Artist Point’s proximity to the Mt. Baker Highway, and generally safer avalanche conditions, mean that the destination is still relatively easily attained.
After exiting the south end of the parking lot and passing the ski runs, the trail to Artist Point makes a gradual 500-foot ascent to Austin Pass. From here it opens into the snow-covered meadows to the Kulshan Ridge. Follow the ridge for a quarter mile to a pinnacle, which is Artist Point (elevation 5,200 feet). After soaking in the peak-filled panorama at the point, if you wish to extend the journey you can hike a half-mile further along the ridge; this will take you to another crest, Huntoon Point.
Who is Going to Love It
Snowshoeing enthusiasts who are looking for a beautiful day that offers an ideal blend of accessibility and isolation. Some previous snowshoe experience is recommended, and knowing how to stay comfortable in winter conditions is a must. As always, remember to check avalanche conditions before heading out.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park at the southern/upper end of the Mt. Baker Ski Area parking lot. The trail leaves from the ski area, toward Austin Pass.