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Excelsior Pass via Nooksack River

North Cascades


North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area
View map below


7.8 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 3600 ft.
Highest Point: 5400 ft.


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WTA worked here: 2021

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

This trail is a staircase of switchbacks that march ever upward through thick forest to deliver hikers to an iconic ridge walk in the North Cascades. Starting out just off highway 542, this easily accessible trailhead is situated low in the Nooksack Valley but leads to the heights of Excelsior Pass. The Damfino Lakes Trail is a gentle alternative; what it lacks in grueling terrain on the trail, it makes up for with a 14 mile drive through a gauntlet of potholes to get to the trailhead.

Once hikers arrive at Excelsior Pass, it won’t take long for them to see what all the fuss is about. Views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack Valley are just a few of the many peaks and valleys that make up the scenery.

From Excelsior pass, hikers can continue east along the High Divide and head up a spur trail to Excelsior Peak if they crave even more elevation gain. A mountain toilet is available at Excelsior Pass.


Excelsior Pass via Nooksack River

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.9096, -121.8018 Open map in new window


North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area

High Divide Trail (#630)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Hiking Whatcom County

Ken Wilcox

Hike #58

Buy the Green Trails Mount Baker No. 13 map

Getting There

Take highway 542 ( Mount Baker Highway) from Bellingham for about 35 miles to the town of Glacier. From here it’s 7.7 miles to the Excelsior Pass trailhead, which will be directly off of highway 542 on the left. A privy is available and there is space for six cars to park.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Excelsior Pass via Nooksack River

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