My new favorite hike–Chain Lakes Loop

On paper this looked like a pretty nice hike. It is unique in that it is a loop hike and not the usual out and back hike.  On a loop hike the scenery is always new, no repeat!  In person this hike is so much more!  Such variety is landscape, early peak-a-boo looks at Mt Baker, lots of talus, wildflowers, butterflies, lakes and finally a full view of Mt Baker. WOW!!

We started the hike at Austin Pass/Heather Meadows and went counter-clockwise. The trail headed down into a valley where the trail passes a small creek and a lake. The lake is deep blue, with the edges tinted in aqua green and copper colors. Massive spires surround the valley. The valley floor is a fairly short hike because you start zigzagging up the hill. There is zero shade on this climb and we chose an over 80 degree day so it was pretty hot and dusty!  Periodic water stops would give us the opportunity to get some views of either Mt Baker or Mt Shuskan which would give you a little burst of energy. The trail is surrounded by wild blueberries and huckleberries. Whitney loves wild huckleberries!  We could always tell when she found some good ones and it was quickly followed by “yum,yum, yum”. 

We stopped for a few minutes at the top of the hill as we needed the break and we got our first full view of Mt Baker and a couple huge lakes!  They looked like a good spot to stop for lunch!  There was a bit of snow at the top which was nice to cool off the hands with. We ran into quick a few backpackers who were headed out for a few days. I have a admit this looks like a pretty amazing place to camp!

I stopped part way down where I found a great clearing of Mt Baker. I packed one of my #DevynRocks rocks and took a couple pictures. This is in honor of a family who lost their son recently. He loved adventures so I take a rock with me on my hikes. I follow the hiking rule of leave no trace so I pack the rock, in and out, on all my hiking adventures. I hope he enjoyed the view!

We headed down the other side of the climb and this took us right down to the lake. The trail goes between two large lakes with a few campsites up on the hill. We found a nice spot to stop for lunch that was right on the lake and in a meadow of wildflowers. It felt so good to sit down for a few, refuel and put our feet in the chilly lake!  A small group came down with a black lab and he went straight into the lake!  Swimming around and chasing the bubbles he created by slapping on the water. It was so funny!!

After about an hour we headed back on the trail through the meadow before climbing up the hill to Artists Point. It was a steady climb but manageable. At the top the trail intersects with the Ptarmigan trail that continues along the ridge line.  We traversed along the hillside and arrived at Artist Point. Holy cow was the lot full!!  We started our hike at 9:30 which is normal hiking terms is late however on the trail it seemed to be quite early!!

The trail from Artist Point down to Austin Pass/Heather Meadows was steep and I mean steep!!  It was stairs and trail full of loose rocks. I’m glad it was at the end of the hike as it was hard on the knees.  

Overall this is one of my favorite hikes!!  It’s steady but totally manageable. The scenery is spectacular!  I bet in the late spring this is a beautiful hike in the snow! Another great hike!  Thanks for the company Tami and Whitney!

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