We did one last quick day hike in the North Cascades before heading off to Leavenworth for the circus that is the Enchantments lottery. The day hike that we chose was the Heliotrope, a short easy hike that takes you to the very edge of the Coleman Glacier that tumbles off the East side of Mt Baker. It is pretty rare to get so close and personal with such a large Glacier with so little effort. This in-and-out hike is 2.5 miles one way, 5 miles return. The first two miles take you steadily up through an uneventful forest. At that point there’s a split – the left (which we took) takes you to the Glacier overlook, and the right (which we skipped) takes you up to the climbers camp from where expeditions to the top of Mt Baker start. The main challenge in the hike is the creek crossing shortly after the split: when we were there around noon the water was already raging and the boulder hopping crossing was quite difficult. About half of the people gave up at this point and turned around. The actual Glacier lookout point is very shortly after the river. It is high atop the moraines and it gives you a splendid overview of the Glacier which is right below and which expands up and across and down for a great distance. Right in front of you is the deeply crevassed ice that tumbles down from the elegant snow fields on Mt Baker above.
Distance: approximately 2.5 miles one way, 5 miles return.
Time: approximately 2.5 hours return.