We chose a lovely weekday in September to avoid the traffic. However, there was considerable roadwork being done on the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway and we had to wait 15 minutes at one point, having just missed the pilot car going down the mountain. I had been to Mt. Baker once before and had forgotten how lovely it is and how many options there are for hiking or walking near the top. You can stroll around for a few minutes, or hike for hours. Some trails are paved.
The view was stunning. A few steps from the Artist's Point parking lot, you can see more than 270 degrees around. We almost didn't see the pay station in the corner of the parking lot where you need to pay a $5.00 fee for the day.
We had to use the restrooms, and the facilities at the parking lot were really foul-smelling outhouses, almost out of toilet paper and completely out of hand sanitizer. Just after we used it, a park employee arrived to do some maintenance, but I doubt that would do much about the smell.
A short way down the mountain, we stopped at Picture Lake. Our plans for a leisurely stroll were cut short by some very aggressive insects. We ended up running back to our car with horseflies attacking mercilessly. (No one else there seemed bothered, so I'm chalking it up to some new shampoo my husband and I had both tried.)
We also stopped at about mile 46 to see the Nooksak Falls, just off the byway. I've never been so scared by a sign in my life. The sign there gives a warning about 7 different ways regarding getting too close to the edge and lists the names of the many people that have died there slipping off the rocks. Now there is a heavy-duty chain link fence that would require a lot of determination to cross, so no need to fear as long as you don't get any crazy ideas. It's well worth a brief side-trip. Lovely falls where 2 forks of the river meet and continue down a deep gorge.
We probably spent about 8 or so hours just driving, so next time we might try one of the Bed and Breakfasts we saw along the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway and take more time exploring/hiking around at the top, making it a two-day trip.
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