near Boundary, Washington (United States)
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The track was recorded on August 19, 2018, with heavy wildfire smoke from a record California, Washington and BC fire season. Air Quality Index (AQI) at the closest station to the bottom of Mount Baker exceeded 200 on the day, and appeared considerably higher at elevation, where visibility was significantly impaired. This track could be seen as a proxy for a fog or cloudy day hike. Other Wikiloc tracks of Chain Lakes and adjoining trails posted by ARBY101CA have pictures taken on clear days.
Those requiring a day parking pass have to pick this up a few hundred meters below the parking lot, at a signboard on the left (east) side of the access road. A US$5 bill is the only method of payment there, so prepare that in advance.
Many prefer to start the Chain Lakes Trail at the higher-elevation Artist Point parking where large toilet facilities and the pay station are right at the parking lot. However, the initial trail sections from Artist Point are not the most scenic, and if going clockwise from there it's a final steep climb back to Artist Point at the end of the day.
Maximum Group size restriction of 12, more must break into multiple separate parties.
Get Parking Day Pass Here (if necessary)
Honour system; leave US$5 in envelope with your car information, deposit this in the lock box, hang stub on front mirror of car
Bagley Lakes Trailhead Parking
One outhouse located at start of trails. Paved access and parking lot.
Bagley Lakes Dam
After a short descent from parking, cross the curved dam at the north end (outlet) of Bagley Lakes.
Bagley Lakes Bridge
Upper Bagley Stream
The first accessible remnant snowfields are here, in late August. A smaller path branches down to the stream in the valley bottom.
Climb to Table Mt Pass
This is the toughest climb of the track. Switchback path was under maintenance on the day. Ground squirrels actively calling in boulder fields, and occasionally show themselves. Abundant wild blueberry and sub-alpine flowers, with thick clusters near any water. Thickets of sparse subalpine forest.
Pass at Table Mt
At approx 1,650 meters, the peak elevation of this track, and the top of the first of two major climbs. A popular rest and snack place in calm conditions. There is a great view of Table Mountain to the east. Table Mountain is apparently a thick sequence of flat-lying basaltic lava flows.
The trail passes a smaller lake immediately west of Iceberg Lake.
Iceberg Lake View
There were no icebergs on the day (Aug 19), however the Google satellite default image shows a time when there was more snow and plenty of small icebergs.
Mazama Lake Camping Area
Several tents were set up above the south shore of this small lake.
Top of the second of two climbs on this track. Mount Baker would be visible to the south of here on a clearer day.
The geology along the entire track is fascinating. Outcrops at this waypoint appear to be silica-rich, sub-volcanic intrusions with step-like planar fracturing. They stand out in contrast to the predominant rock types of the area; columnar basaltic lava flows, coarse fragmental rocks ejected by violent volcanic air-blast eruptions, and finer volcanic ash fall deposits.
Artist Point Parking
A large high-elevation parking lot with paved road access. A popular location with larger toilet facilities, and parking day passes available right at the parking lot.
Start Wild Goose Trail
This section of the Wild Goose Trail occasionally intersects the access road up to Artist Point. It must be one of the older popular hiking trails, as the close-spaced rock cairns marking the trail are heavily weathered and crumbling in some places.
Wild Goose Stairs
Erosion is beginning to undermine the stairs in some places, where it can be a bit like descending an inclined log ladder.
Heather Meadows Visitors Center
Large facility, closed on the day.
Columnar Basalt Flows
The top surfaces of basaltic lava flows with columnar jointing are exposed along the path below the Visitors Center.