Bagley Lakes

September 4, 2008

This trail is located on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

To get to the trailhead, from Glacier, travel east on Mt. Baker Highway 542 for 21.0 miles (33.80 kms) to Heather Meadows. The trailhead is located at the Mt. Baker Ski Area's winter parking lot. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for each vehicle parked at the trailhead, you can buy one at the entrance of the park.

Bagley Lakes Trailhead Parking Lot
Table Mountain on the background

This trail connects to Chain Lakes Loop as well. After leaving the parking lot the trail drops down and follows the eastern shore of Lower Bagley Lake.

Top: Parking Lot
Bottom: Trail drops down

In early summer Bagley Lakes have the added attraction of skiers careening down snow slopes and hoping to stop at the water’s edge.

Upper Bagley Lake

If you want to make things more interesting, cross Arch Bridge and go left, this is the start (or end depending of your point of view) of Chain Lakes Loop.

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest contains many scenic and historical points of interest. Mountain tops gradually rise from 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) on the south end of the forest to 7,000 to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in the north.

Arch Bridge

As of 1971, the park had 318 glaciers with an area of 117 km² (Post et al., 1971), the most of any US park outside Alaska.

Lower Bagley Lake

Upper Bagley Lake is a deep cirque at the foot ot Table Mountain. A cirque (French for "circus") is an amphitheatre-like valley, or valley head, formed at the head of a glacier by erosion.

As you ascent, you have views of one of the more photographed mountains in the Cascade Range, Mount Shuksan. The mountain's name Shuksan is derived from a Skagit Indian word meaning "Rocky and Precipitous."

Mount Shuksan

Go as far as you want unless you have in your plans to do Chain Lakes Loop (a 8 miles - 12.87 km - roundtrip hike).

This park is noted for its wildlife. Due to its wilderness nature, it is home to wolves, lynx, moose, wolverines, and many other rare and/or endangered species. Few grizzly sightings have been confirmed by park staff, though black bears are common.

Top: Mount Shuksan on left, Table Mountain on right

The ski area close to this trail is home to the world record for snowfall in one season: 1,140 inches (29 m). This record snowfall fell during the 1998-99 season.

On your way back, do not cross the bridge and stay on your left side.

Major revegation efforts are underway to try and rehabilitate the damaged meadows. Please stay on the designated trail and observe the "Meadow Repair" signs showing closed trails and areas.

Lower Bagle Lake is a man-made reservoir. Once you cross the dam, you can connect to Wild Goose Trail which provides access to all other trails.

Bagley Dam

Along the way this trail offers interesting views of columnar basalt. During the cooling of a thick lava flow, contractional joints or fractures form. If a flow cools relatively rapidly, significant contraction forces build up.

Lower Bagle Lake

While a flow can shrink in the vertical dimension without fracturing, it cannot easily accommodate shrinking in the horizontal direction unless cracks form.

Columnar basalt

The extensive fracture network that develops results in the formation of columns.

Distance One Way: 2.41 km (1.50 mi)
Total Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation gain: 30.48 m (100 ft)

Driving distance from Vancouver: 148 km (92 mi)
About 2 hours 26 mins