DescriptionMount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest covers the western slopes of the Cascades from the Canadian border to the northern boundary of Mount Rainier National Park, its 1,724,229 acres encompassing some of the state's most rugged wilderness. Mount Baker, at 10,778 feet, dominates the northern section and is the site of Sherman Crater, where thermal activity began in 1975. The Mount Baker Wilderness surrounds the volcano.
Glacier Peak, at 10,568 feet, towers over the central part of the forest. The Glacier Peak Wilderness lies between Stevens Pass and North Cascades National Park. In the high country between Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass is the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Four east-west highways offer scenic drives—I-90, US 2, SR 20 and SR 410. National Scenic Byways include the Mount Baker Highway (SR 542) from Glacier to Artist Point, and the Stevens Pass Highway (US 2) east from Gold Bar to Leavenworth.
The Mountain Loop Highway also is a National Scenic Byway leading into the heart of the western Cascades. From Granite Falls it parallels the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River past Mount Pilchuck, numerous forest service campgrounds and old mine sites. Silverton, 22 miles east of Granite Falls, is an old former mining town. Four miles past Silverton, a 1-mile trail leads to the Big Four Ice Caves (closed until further notice; phone ahead). East of Silverton the road is subject to closure due to weather from November until April or May.
Once past Barlow Pass the partly gravel road, which also is subject to closure due to washouts, leads north to Darrington. The former road to Monte Cristo, an important 1890s gold mining town, is closed indefinitely due to washouts but is accessible to hikers. Check road and trail conditions at the Darrington Ranger Station, 1405 Emens Ave. N.; phone (360) 436-1155.
Wildlife abounds and streams teem with fish. Camping, pack trips and hiking are popular, particularly along the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The Washington portion of the trail runs along the north-south crest of the Cascades for more than 500 miles from the Columbia River to the British Columbia border.
Skiers head to The Summit at Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, Mount Baker on SR 542 and Stevens Pass on US 2. Visitor information is available at ranger stations in Darrington, Enumclaw, North Bend, Sedro-Woolley and Skykomish; public services centers at Glacier and Granite Falls and a visitor center at Snoqualmie Pass are open late May to late September. The Heather Meadows Visitor Center is open from late July to early October, depending on snow conditions.
A Northwest Forest Pass, available at ranger stations, is required for parking at most trailheads in the forest. A day pass costs $5 per vehicle; an annual pass costs $30. For recreation information contact the Outdoor Recreation Information Center, 222 Yale Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109; phone (206) 470-4060. For further information contact the Forest Supervisor's Office, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 2930 Wetmore Ave., Suite 3A, Everett, WA 98201; phone (425) 783-6000 or (800) 627-0062, ext. 0. (Note: This office provides no visitor services or recreation pass sales.)