Skip to Content

Best Guide to Artist Point Snowshoe Mt Baker

The Artist Point Snowshoe in the Mt Baker Ski Area in Washington State remains one of the best snowshoe walks I’ve done. It’s not particularly difficult and, on a clear day, the views are absolutely incredible.

You’ll come out to an area at the end of the hike where you can see both Mt Baker and Mt Shukshan as well as mountains all around you.

It’s super cool to see and if you’re planning on snowshoeing to Artist Point this winter, you’re in for a treat.

Below I’ve included everything you’ll need for this Artist Point hiking guide including what to pack, where to park, and some information on the trail itself as well as useful tips that will help you avoid any unfriendly interactions with people doing an Artist Point ski tour!

On a clear day, you can see Mt Baker in Washington State from Vancouver. That sight still blows my mind.

Since we’ve recently got our Canadian Permanent Residency, we decided to head down on a weekend road trip to the US to get a bit closer to Mt Baker.

On the itinerary: do an artist point snowshoe hike and then spend the following day skiing at Mt Baker ski resort.

The Artist Point snowshoe trail is absolutely stunning with beautiful mountain views the whole way, if you want to plan your own snowshoe trip in Mt Baker then be sure to check out the details about the Artist Point, Mt Baker below.

AllTrails is my go-to hiking app for finding, planning, and navigating while I’m out on the trails. With offline maps on AllTrails+ you can be confident you’re still on the right track, even without mobile signal.

mtbaker artist point (1 of 1)-2

Artist Point Mt Baker hike – snowshoe trail stats

If you’re looking for some relatively easy Mt Baker hiking then be sure to check out the Artist Point, Washington trail. This is one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ Mt Baker snowshoe trails in the area.

  • Distance: 6.3 km / 3.9 miles round trip 
  • Elevation gain: 294 m / 965 ft
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Artist Point Trailhead, Washington: Heather Meadows parking lot in Mount Baker Ski Area (near Upper Lodge)
  • Avalanche Rating: Recommended not to hike if the avalanche rating is above 2/moderate. Check here. You should strongly consider taking an AST1 course before snowshoeing in areas like this.
  • Mt Baker Artist Point snowshoe Alltrails map.
mtbaker artist point (1 of 1)-2

Artists Point Snowshoe Hiking Guide

the Artist Point snowshoe hike is quite unique for PNW trails as there’s no defined path. Instead, you’ll find multiple trails marked out in the snow by snowshoers as well as skin tracks left behind by ski tourers (stay out of these with your snowshoes!).

This lack of one single trail means that your hiking distance may vary especially if you don’t go all the the ‘end point’ (Huntoon Point). In general, the snowshoe to Artist Point Mount Baker Washington is about 4 miles return.

This hike starts right from the winter parking lot at Mount Baker. Here you’ll find some washrooms and a sign guiding uphill traffic which you’ll want to follow – don’t walk over the pisted ski runs!

The first section of the hike goes quite close to the boundary of the ski area and you’re separated by some ropes.

The groomed ski runs will be on your left, while Bagley Creek will be to your right, though it might be entirely covered in snow. Just follow the tracks left by other hikers unless heavy snowing makes them difficult to spot.

A half-mile into this trail, you’ll veer uphill towards Austin Pass, embarking on a steady climb. The ascent is fairly steep but the views of rolling hills and scattered cabins, along with distant mountain ranges, make up for it. Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker remain hidden for most of this trail waiting for their reveal at the end!

Toward the end of the shared snowshoe and downhill ski paths, you’ll encounter a short, steep section. This is arguably the hardest part of the hike, but don’t worry, it’s over quickly!

As you near the final steep climb, you’ll get your first glimpse of Mt. Baker’s distinctive peak. On reaching the summit you’ll be rewarded for your effort with incredible views of the Cascade Range on both sides.

At the top, to the east lies Mount Shuksan, and to the west, Mount Baker, along with several other Cascade Range peaks. Take a breather, have a snack, drink some water, and enjoy the scenery before heading back the way you came to the parking lot.

mtbaker artist point (1 of 1)-2

Trip reports: Upper Lodge to Artist Point Trail

We began our snowshoe to Artist Point in Washington State just after lunchtime. Whilst there were plenty of other people on the trail it wasn’t too crowded.

You begin the Artist Point snowshoe by starting pretty close to the ski runs of the Mt Baker ski resort with a gentle climb that soon gets a lot steeper. Luckily there are plenty of beautiful mountain views to distract you!

The day we did it (end of March) it was super hot and sunny but snowshoes were very much still needed.

The trail steepens considerably once you pass the visitor’s center to your right. After about 1.6km of hiking, you’ll reach Austin Pass and at this point, you’re on the last of the big climbs already!

You can sometimes make out the switchbacks of the Mt Baker Highway here as it climbs up to Artist Point.

You’ll then start snowshoeing west for the final ascent and the amazing views!

We stopped partway along this final climb to take in the views of Baker in front of us and Mt Shuksan behind.

If you want some privacy to take in the views I’d recommend stopping along here too as the ‘summit’ gets pretty crowded.

What to know before snowshoeing to Aritsts Point Mount Baker

  • Avalanche Safety: Artist Point area experiences heavy snowfall, so always stay alert to avalanche risks. It’s advisable to check the Artist Point avalanche conditions via the Northwest Avalanche Center before embarking on your snowshoe journey. Free, 90-minute Avalanche Awareness classes are available for beginners. If you’re planning more frequent visits to avalanche-prone areas, you should take an avalanche safety course which is useful for both snowshoers and backcountry skiers can benefit from these courses. We did ours while living in Sun Peaks.
  • Artist Point Weather Awareness: Keep an eye on the weather. While a clear day enhances the experience, remember that Mt Baker weather can change rapidly.
  • Snow Conditions: Check the Mt Baker snow report to understand the snow conditions better. There is no Mt Baker Artist Point webcam.
  • Road Conditions: During the summer, the road to Artist Point is usually plowed. You can check the road conditions online.
  • Avalanche Prone Area: Artist Point is known for avalanches. Avoid hiking near steep, exposed hills for safety. When the avalanche risk is high, it’s best to avoid the area. You can find up-to-date avalanche reports here.
  • Record Snowfall: Artist Point is famous for its heavy snowfall, holding a world record for the most snowfall in a season – 95 feet (1,140 inches).
  • Best Time to Visit: If a winter wonderland is what you’re after, visit between November and June. You can check the current snow reports here.
  • Sunset Warning: The trail can be confusing after sunset due to tracks leading in multiple directions. It’s recommended to start your descent before sunset unless you’re familiar with the area.
  • Navigational Skills: If the forecast suggests rain or fog, routing-finding skills are crucial to navigating this open terrain.
  • Precautionary Advice: Postpone the hike if you’re not comfortable with mountain conditions during adverse weather. It’s always better to prioritize safety.

How to get to Mt Baker and the Artist Point snowshoe trailhead

You must carry snow chains for your vehicle in winter as required by law. 

From Vancouver BC

Expect the journey from Vancouver to take around 2.5 hours, though this might vary based on border crossing times. You’ll cross the border at Sumas, which is usually less busy than Peach Arch.

  • Start by heading east on the TransCanada Highway toward Abbotsford.
  • Take exit 92 for the USA border via British Columbia 11 S.
  • After crossing the border, proceed along WA-547S/Front Street.
  • Follow the WA-542 E (Mt Baker Highway) until you arrive at the Upper Lodge/Heather Meadows area of Mt Baker Ski Resort.

Parking is free but if you’re planning to stay overnight, a $10 fee applies for overnight parking.

From Seattle, WA:

For Mt Baker directions from Seattle to Mt. Baker Ski Area is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. If you’re coming from Bellingham, it’s about 1.5 hours.

The main route is via the Mount Baker Highway (WA Hwy 542), which is open all year round.

Given the road conditions in the upper areas of Hwy 542, you might find a 4-wheel drive vehicle and/or snow chains helpful.

snowshoe artist point mount baker

How to get to Artist Point Trailhead

To reach the Artist Point Washington trailhead, drive along Mount Baker Highway to its endpoint at the Mt. Baker Ski Area.

Make sure to proceed to the uppermost parking lot (GPS coordinates: 48.8619716, -121.6820668).

Parking here is free and toilets are available for hikers to use before and after their journey.

At this point, you’re at the trailhead. Feel free to use the facilities, enjoy a snack, put on your snowshoes, and prepare for your adventure!

artist point mount baker

About the Artist Point Snowshoe Trail

Artist Point WA marks the end of the Mt Baker Highway (WA State Route 542 East from Bellingham) and it’s very easy to see where this destination gets its name from.

In the summer months, you can drive the Artist Point road as it winds up the mountains, inching closer to Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan. In the winter, however, you’re going to have to snowshoe to Artist Point for the last 3 km.

There are incredible views the entire way along the trail and they only get better as you get closer to Artist Point.

Along the way, you’ll pass alongside some ski runs from neighboring Mt Baker Ski Resort and see Mt Shuksan and Mt Baker as well as hundreds of other mountain peaks as far as the eye can see.

If you look closely you’ll be able to make out where the switchbacks of the road are when not covered in meters of snow.

It’s a busy trail since it’s neither too hard nor too long. But you’ll still usually be able to find a spot near the top of Artist Point to enjoy the views in peace. If you want to escape the crowds more, check out Table Mountain at Mount Baker for alternative Mount Baker snowshoeing routes.

Whilst you park by the Mt Baker ski area this trail is out of the ski resort boundary and is part of the Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

artist point snowshoe

When is the best time to snowshoe Artist Point Mount Baker?

You can usually drive up to the Artist Point parking area from around July until late September. For the rest of the year, Mount Baker Highway is plowed only up to the ski area at Heather Meadows, so you can access Artist Point only by snowshoeing or skiing.

Artist Point is located quite north and at a significant elevation (5,100 feet), which means there’s typically good snow coverage from November to June for snowshoeing. However, the conditions can vary each season, so it’s always recommended to check beforehand before doing any snowshoeing Mt Baker trails.

mtbaker artist point (1 of 1)-2

Where to rent snowshoes near Mt Baker, Washington

The closest Mt Baker snowshoe rental is in the town of Glacier as Mt Baker ski resort doesn’t offer snowshoe rentals.

If you’re coming from Vancouver you can either rent some from downtown before heading to the US or you can pick some up in the small town of Glacier along the Mt Baker highway.

The Glacier Ski Shop rents snowshoes for US$35 ($47 CAD) a day (returned before 9 am the following day). This is slightly more expensive than renting in Vancouver but it’s a lot more convenient.

What to pack for snowshoeing Artist Point Snowshoe

  • Snowshoes: Crucial for a snowshoe trip you can bring your own or get rental snowshoe packs from the Glacier Ski Shop. They help you walk comfortably over the snow without falling into it with every step.
  • Winter Boots: Waterproof or Goretex boots to keep your feet warm and dry. These boots provide good insulation and prevent your feet from getting wet. I typically just use my hiking boots.
  • Warm Socks: High-quality socks will maintain the warmth and dryness of your feet.
  • Layers of Clothing: Dress in layers, including a waterproof outer layer, thermals for a base layer, and an insulated jacket. This allows you to add/remove clothing as needed due to weather changes.
  • Salopettes and/or Gaiters: These prevent snow from entering your shoes and pants, keeping your legs dry and warm.
  • Gloves or Mittens: To protect your hands from frostbite and cold temperatures.
  • Sunglasses: To protect your eyes from snow glare and UV rays.
  • Hat: An essential piece to maintain body heat, as a significant amount of heat can be lost through the head.
  • Camera: Bring along your camera gear to capture the stunning winter landscapes.
  • Water: Carry at least 2 liters of water for hydration, even in cold conditions.
  • Your 10 essentials for hiking: This survival pack includes navigation tools, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first-aid supplies, a fire-starting kit, a repair kit, extra food, extra water, and an emergency shelter.
  • Hiking Backpack: A suitable backpack for carrying your water, snacks, phone, camera, and keys. Osprey hiking packs are a good choice but try and try a few to see what fits you best.
  • Emergency Device (Optional): Consider carrying a device like the Garmin InReach Mini, especially if you’re snowshoeing alone. It helps you stay connected in case of an emergency.
anatom ballater ultra light shoe
From a winter camping trip on Mt Seymour, Vancouver.

Winter camping at Artist Point

Interested in camping during winter? Artist Point is an excellent place for it!

While we didn’t winter camp up there this time around, we have done winter camping several times at Mt Seymour in Vancouver (it’s where we got engaged!), and we did a couple of nights of winter camping on the Spearhead Traverse in Whistler.

Remember, you’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park your car for the night. You can get a yearly pass for just $30.

mt baker cabin

Where to stay near Mt Baker Ski Resort

Mt Baker Ski Resort is surrounded by National Forest. If you’ve read my post about where to camp for free in the US & Canada, you’ll know you can camp for free in US National Forests for up to 14 days. The forest roads are ideal for Mt Baker camping!

In the winter it can be harder to find a spot in National Forests depending on your vehicle and snow conditions. Especially since forest roads are usually full of potholes and not cleared of snow!

Therefore, I’ve listed a couple of other options if you’re not a camper or there’s too much snow to go journeying down a dirt road. Honestly, these gorgeous cabins near Mt Baker have me rethinking our choice to camp down a forest road!

  • Snowater Nook: In Deming, this Mount Baker cabin offers mountain views, private parking, and a heated pool. It includes a fully equipped kitchen, washing machine, and hot tub, perfect for after-ski relaxation.
  • Waterfront Chalet: This beachfront chalet in Maple Falls has lake views, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, a fireplace, and a patio where you can enjoy mountain views while dining.
  • Genuine Log Cabin: This pet-friendly log cabin near the Mt Baker Ski Area, has two bedrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, and various skiing and cycling opportunities in the surrounding Glacier area, it’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Mt Baker Snowline Chalet: Set in Glacier, this property comes with a hot tub, private parking, and access to a seasonal outdoor pool. The chalet has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a terrace with mountain views.

FAQs on the snowshoe to Artists Point Mt Baker

Where is the Artist Point Snowshoe Trail?

The Mount Baker Artist Point trail is in the Mt. Baker National Forest, which borders North Cascades National Park. The road leading up to Artist Point is short and at the very east end of Mount Baker Highway, State Route 542, in Whatcom County just above the Mt. Baker Ski Area lodge. 

Does the road to Artist Point close during winter?

Some years the road leading to Artist Point closes due to dangerous road conditions. When the road to Artist Point winter route is closed, it is closed just beyond the upper Mt. Baker Ski Area lodge, at milepost 54.7

What size snowshoes do I need?

The size of your snowshoes primarily depends on your weight, including gear, and the snow conditions. For packed snow and trails, smaller snowshoes (20-25 inches) are adequate for most people. However, larger snowshoes (30 inches or more) are ideal for deep, powdery snow or off-trail use.

How high is Mt Baker?

Mount Baker, located in Washington State, is a prominent glaciated stratovolcano. Its highest peak, known as Grant Peak, stands tall at 10,781 feet (3,286 meters). Its significant height and snowfall make it a popular spot for outdoor winter activities.

How long is the Artist Point hike?

The Artist Point hike is approximately a 4-mile round trip journey, making it a moderately easy trail for many hikers. The hike’s length combined with the amazing panoramic views it offers makes it a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts.

Is Artist Point open?

Check online at the Mount Baker ski area. This area is usually open in both summer and winter. In summer you can park at Artist Point, in winter you park by the lodge.

Final thoughts on this Artist Point Snowshoeing Trip

The Mount Maker Artist Point trail takes an awesome day hike or a quick and easy overnighter too. It’s a relatively short trail with some incredible views of the surrounding mountains. To this day it remains one of my favorite snowshoe trails I’ve done in the PNW.

If you’re looking for more Mt Baker snowshoeing or winter hikes near Vancouver, be sure to check out this guide to the best winter hikes as well as this recap of Mt Frosty Snowshoe in Manning Park BC.

If you’re returning to Mount Baker in the summer, I’d definitely recommend checking out the Heliotrope Trail, which is another awesome option for hikes near Mt Baker. You could also head slightly further south to the North Cascades National Park and do some of the best North Cascades hikes such as the Thunder Knob trail which has amazing views of Diablo Lake in all its turquoise glory!

Last Updated on August 4, 2023 by Hannah

Leave a comment

    This post may include affiliate links. These give me a small source of income and come at no additional cost to you.