This trail provides some of the best views in the Mt. Baker Wilderness of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. A snowfield at mile 2 makes for an interesting diversion from the views, while a viewpoint at mile 3.5 offers a shorter option.
Features: Views — Wildflowers
An ice ax will be required into the summer months, often until late July or early August. Don't forget your Federal Interagency or National Forest Pass to put in the windshield of your vehicle - they check, in the day and the night!
Leave the stunning views of Mt. Baker from in the parking lot to follow the Chain Lakes Trail
as it descends into the trees. After the trail enters the Mt. Baker Wilderness at mile 0.75, stunning views open up of Mt. Baker. The views continue to improve for another 0.3 miles to the trail junction, with the Chain Lakes Trail
continuing right while the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail turns left, downhill.
Turn left and descend at an alarming rate along the side of the ridge with ever more spectacular views of Mt. Baker. This section contains some of the most spectacular views of Baker in the region - nothing but a valley and a ridgeline separates the runner from the volcano. This section of trail is also lovely, with brilliantly colored moss and wildflowers in season along with tiny rivulets and small streams.
About 2 miles from the trailhead - dependent on the time of year, snowmelt, etc. - scramble up the permanent snowfield to a saddle in the ridgeline, trading the views of Mt. Baker for spectacular views toward Mt. Shuksan. Follow the trail as it continues up and then along the side of the ridge, first through heather and huckleberry bushes and then along the exposed rocky side of the ridge. A mile beyond the saddle, arrive at viewpoint of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. This is an excellent place to turn around for a 7-mile run.
Continuing along the side of the ridge, the trail rounds Coleman Pinnacle about a mile later. Views here are jaw-dropping of Mt. Baker, with nothing but a valley between the runner and the big mountain. The glaciers are especially spectacular, along with an occasional waterfall. Runners can turn around here or continue through meadows and low trees to a meadow a half mile later or continue even further with more spectacular views of Mt. Baker and surrounding scenery.