When snowboarding first started to become popular a lot of resorts didn’t allow snowboarders – skiers only! And this wasn’t that long ago.
Hard to believe really.
But not the Mount Baker ski resort – when everyone else was turning snowboarders away Mount Baker was letting us in – welcome to snowboarding Mecca!
Located in Washington, USA near the Canadian border, Mt Baker does without the hype and flashiness in their facilities. They just focus on great terrain on and off-piste and get plenty of powder days in an isolated spot which allows ample space low on crowds (especially mid-week) – this is snowboarding as it should be.
With a whopping 715 inches! (18.16 metres!) of annual snowfall on average (over the last 9 years) you can see why this resort is so lauded for its powder and off-piste – and why they have zero need for man-made snow making.
The Mt Baker ski resort, funnily enough isn’t actually on Mt Baker – it’s situated on the nearby Mt Shuksan – maybe they figured Mt Baker was easier to remember?
|BAKER MOUNTAIN STATS|
|Resort Elevation: 1,551m (5,089ft)|
|Vertical Drop: 485m (1,591ft)|
|Ride-able area: 1,000 acres|
|No. of Lifts: 10 (8 chairlifts, 2 rope tows)|
|No. of trails: 31|
|7 (24%) Beginner (Green)|
|14 (45%) Intermediate (Blue)|
|10 (31%) Advanced (Black Diamond)/Expert (Dbl Black Diamond)|
|Backcountry: Full on (what it’s known for)|
|No. of parks: 1|
|Night Riding: No|
Free-riding & Trails
Awesome backcountry (off-piste) and this is what Mt Baker is really all about. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with their trails but it sounds like this is where you really want to go backcountry.
With an extensive list of mountain safety guidelines and extreme danger zones it certainly does sound like some epic terrain in the backcountry – not for the faint hearted.
But there is plenty of gentle and very safe areas for beginners too – so they really do seem to have all things downhill covered here.
Check out the trail map below:
If you are looking to go freestyle at Mt Baker do it naturally – heaps of natural drops and hits to discover. If you are looking for a park ridden mountain then Mt Baker’s probably not the place to go. It does have one small park but with the name “Pinky” Park it sounds like it won’t exactly be that epic!
Where to Stay
How to Get There
Mt Baker is located in North West-ish Washington State, USA near a town called glacier. Despite its seeming isolation which allows for those low crowd levels, it’s actually not that far from a couple of major centres.
If you are flying in from outside the region then flying to Seattle or Vancouver would make the most sense as these are going to be typically cheaper than the smaller centres.
If price isn’t an issue and you just want to land closer and do as little driving as possible then Bellingham in Washington or Abbotsford in BC, Canada would be your best bets. See driving times below.
As mentioned above it is not that far from a couple of major cities – but it really is isolated when you look at it on the map. And it’s at the end of a dead end road so not somewhere you just pop into on your way somewhere else. In my opinion this adds to the adventure of this snowboarding haven.
Seattle, WA, USA: 2hrs 36mins without traffic – but there’ll barely be a time when you don’t get at least some traffic so allow for longer.
Vancouver, BC, Canada: 2 hrs without traffic. Allow extra time for traffic and border crossing – this will vary depending on the time of day you cross.
Bellingham, WA, USA: 1hr 20mins without traffic.
Abbotsford, BC, Canada: 1hr 20mins without traffic. Allow extra time for border crossing though.
Bakerbus provides a shuttle bus from Bellingham on weekends and holidays. And from Kendall (roughly half way between Baker and Bellingham) all week (provided the mountain is open of course). You can check out their schedule here. This is a pretty reasonable priced service. A return trip from Bellingham is only $14 and from Kendall is only $9.
Other than that though there aren’t a lot of transport options out there. The easiest, most convenient way to go is hiring a car if you don’t have your own. If you are staying between Kendall and Baker then Bakerbus might be a good option to get you from your accommodation to the mountain.
Usual opening date
Mt Baker usually opens towards the end of November. Of course with no snow making facilities this all depends on nature. Given the amount of snowfall they get they usually can open in November. This season has been the exception with opening occurring just a few days before writing this.
Past 5 years opening dates:
2010/2011 Season: November 20, 2010
2011/2012 Season: November 18, 2011
2012/2013 Season: November 21st, 2012
2013/2014 Season: November 21st, 2013
2014/2015 Season: December 20, 2014
Usual closing date
Mt Baker usually closes in the 2nd to last weekend of April. Again this is reliant on nature but since they often get their highest snowfall in March, it’s unlikely that it would be any earlier.
Past 5 years closing dates:
2010/2011 Season: April 16, 2011
2011/2012 Season: April 22, 2012
2012/2013 Season: April 21, 2013
2013/2014 Season: April 20, 2014
2014/2015 Season: Yet to close at time of writing (April 19, 2015 predicted closing date)
Lifts run from 9am to 3:30pm
Have you Had the Pleasure of Exploring Mt Baker?
Have you been to Mt Baker? What’s been your riding experience there? It would be awesome to hear about it in the comments below. Any questions, feedback and other comments welcome too.