Hiking through dense fog with two of my friends in an attempt to climb 3,750 feet of elevation to the top of Church Mountain and the accompanying lookout proved successful.
This hike is excellent for anyone looking for a tough day hike and some serious elevation gain. Located only an hour west of Bellingham, Church Mountain will provide you with amazing sights of old-growth forests, high-alpine meadows and serious mountain peaks.
On this week’s edition of Trailblazers, I take to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forrest with three great friends, in search of Church Mountain. This spiny, mountain peak holds amazing sights plus a wonderful viewpoint, giving you views of Mt. Baker, the Skyline Divide, the Twin Sisters and Rainier, on a clear day.
Sitting at 6,100 feet, the Church Mountain climb is not for the faint hearted. With over 3,700 vertical feet to climb over 4.25 miles, this is one-day trip that will leave you sore, happy and wanting more.
As you start up the trail, you will immediately begin to climb into the hills. As you climb, make sure you take in all of the natural beauty: massive trees growing out of the hillside, fields of moss covering the ground and splotches of color from fall trees.
As you continue climbing up the switchbacks through the old-growth forest, you will finally emerge into a basin. This basin holds vast quantities of water during the warmer parts of the year, due to snowmelt and accompanying rain. Once you reach this basin, you can look up to see the spines and spires of Church Mountain still towering above you. For the wildflower lovers in your hiking group, this basin is flooded with a variety of different flowers during the warmer parts of the year, giving you an amazing view immediately as you step out of the trees.
Moving past the basin, you continue to climb up the steep slopes and switchbacks, which will lead you to another rocky basin, just underneath the lookout and summit of the mountain.
Mere moments before you reach the crest of the ridge, you will move past the shell of an old shed and privy, before making the final push to the 6,100 ft. peak. On a clear day, you will be able to see for miles around. But if the clouds and fog decide to roll in, most of the view is obstructed and you will have to hope the fog clears out. If the fog doesn’t clear, you will have to take another trip to see the sights.
This trail closes through the winter, beginning at the end of October. It stays closed through March, due to increased snowfall in the higher elevations.