Added by Katherine Haveman
One of the best views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan without any of the crowds! Church Mountain is a more secluded hike with a fun class 3 scramble to a summit for 360-degree mountain views.
Start by driving roughly 2.5 miles up Forest Road 3040, conveniently named E Church Mt Road, to the trailhead. The road is bumpy, but lacking the pot-holes that occupy many of the other forest roads. The only issue comes at 2 miles in where a stream runs over the road and has eroded a small ditch. Go slow and you should be fine, my Honda Fit made it easy enough, and arrive at the parking area with space for plenty of cars and a bathroom by the trailhead.
Begin your hike by following a gently sloping gravel road before coming to the first of many switchbacks through the trees. There is one downed tree, but it is easy to jump over. The switchbacks are not the most evenly graded, they will vary from moderate to steep, so it would be helpful to bring your trekking poles if you have them. You’ll get a few peeks at the Nooksack River below, or the top of Mt. Baker, but press on for much better views are ahead. After what seems like forever (3 miles to be exact) the last switchback will level out and cross a few small creeks before opening up to the meadow. Now you have your first view of Church Mountain and its ridge line.
Follow the trail through huckleberry bushes as the meadow transitions into a marsh-like area where the ground is heavily saturated with water from the stream nearby. There are two campsites with fire pits on the left, but again, the ground is often saturated and they are probably best used in the middle of Summer. At this point, you have a stunning view of Mt. Baker, and you’ll be able to keep your eye on the mountain for the rest of the hike.
Cross the stream and follow the trail as it wraps around the left side of the mountain. A set of switchbacks cuts across the steep mountainside towards the summit. Nearly there, you will find a cable that is used to help you ascend the class three scramble to the summit, and you will want to bring gloves to help you handle the rough cable. If using the cable to climb straight up the rocky face of Church Mountain isn’t your thing, there is a trail to the right that gets you to the summit with much less scrambling, I tend to take the cable up, and the path back down.
Enjoy the stunning views from the top, you’ve earned it!
- 10 Essentials
- Gloves (for handling the cable)
- Trekking Poles
- Microspikes (late season snow in the meadow)
- Snacks and water
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