Hike Helitrope Ridge

Washington Heliotrope Ridge Parking Lot

Added by Patrick McGarry

This is an incredible hike with many reasons to do it including amazing views, up close look at glacier, wonderful colors (depending on season), and fun stream crossings.

Starting at the marked Heliotrope Ridge parking lot of FS Road 39, just 8 miles out of the quaint town of Glacier, Washington, you begin your ascent to the glacier viewpoint. The trailhead sign indicates that it is a strenuous 2,000 ft gain over 2.5 miles up to the overlook.

This clearly cut trail switchbacks its way up the hillside over several drainages. You will cross several streams on this trek; be mindful, in spring these can surge in the afternoon making it a bit tricky on your return trip. Totally worth the journey even if you get your feet wet!

There will be one sign on trail indicating the split for climbers to head straight up the hillside to their camp before heading to the peak. Here a turn left takes day hikers across the hillside. After the several crossings you will come up to the cliff carved away by the ancient glacier. You may see some climbers trails accessing the face of the beast.

Head up if you are ok with some exposure and hiking on some loose rocks. Touching a glacier is something everyone should experience. Otherwise sit back, listen to the cracking of the giant while you soak up the sun and eat some lunch. Enjoy!

Pack List

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Extra pair of socks in case of an accidental dunk
  • Water
  • Picnic lunch to enjoy at the viewpoint
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More




Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



5.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1500 Feet



Dog Friendly

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How to Get There

2 months ago

Amazing Views

It almost felt like cheating, getting this good of a view of Mt. Baker with relatively little effort. Absolutely love this diverse trail and enjoy the stream crossings, the last substantial one gushing out between boulders forcing me to wade through with water to my knees.

2 months ago

3 months ago

Streams And Glacier!

Really enjoyed this hike! July 18, 2015. Relaxed hike, not much for steep inclines though we still broke a sweat. It was enjoyable, probably took us about 2 hours up and 1 hour down. We weren't paying much attention to time since it was a short hike. the trail itself is pretty basic, the only concerns would be crossing the river. Some streams are quite simple, but the main river was a little sketchy! Would recommend kids or senior in light of the stream. You will end up with a fantastic view of the glacier and will see many hikers with overnight packs as they will be setting up camp just a bit farther before taking on Mt Baker summit the following day!

3 months ago

3 months ago

Awesome Day Hike

This hike was such a great hike if you're looking for something for the day. It's a moderate gain of elevation the whole way, not too hard at all. It's quite a diverse hike as well. You get great scenes while in the trees and then good views in the gaps of the trees. There are 2 big stream crossings that will most likely require you to get wet but it is more than worth it. When you get past the second crossing at the end there is an amazing view of the glacier and if you want you can go up to it. Along with the glacier, you're staring Mount Baker in the face. Overall this is a quick hike that is well worth it.

3 months ago

7 months ago

Best Day Hike

I have been up heliotrope ridge several times while climbing Mt. Baker and a few times as a day hike. It is probably one of the best day hikes I have ever been on. Make sure you give yourself a lot of time because it might be short but is very steep. There is also lots of exploring to do when you get to the top. It doesn't really come a definite end as lots of climbing routes take off from the viewpoint. If you go up higher you can snag a sweet tent pad and spend a beautiful night.

7 months ago

10 months ago

Beautiful But Dangerous!

This was amazing and I loved every bit of it, EXCEPT THE BUGS. They mostly consisted of horse flys which are annoying but terrible. The thing that throws you off is the little river / streams you have to pass over to get there. The last one to get to the top moves very quickly and is somewhat difficult to cross. I met hikers along the way who had turned back because they were unable to cross it. But if you can, it's totally worth it.

10 months ago

12 months ago

a little bit of everything

my husband and i did this hike when we first moved to the pnw and i think this was probably the first step of me falling madly in love with this place. deep mossy forests, alpine flowers, running streams and an icy blue glacier. a pretty much perfect afternoon.

12 months ago

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