Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,177.00 m (3,861.55 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
13.70 km (8.51 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The trail to Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Peak is a beautiful ascent from the wet rainforest floor up into the breathtaking alpine of the North Cascades. 

Nestled along the North Fork of the Nooksack River where there is no shortage of superb hiking options, this trail stands out for a few reasons. First, it's the only trail in the region that is open to horses. It is also the only trail with the trailhead on the Mount Baker Highway, meaning there are no issues checking up on forestry road conditions or worrying about potholes.

From the trailhead there is a gradual elevation gain along a well-marked trail through damp and vibant groundcover and a tightly packed canopy. Shortly after you enter the Mount Baker Wilderness the gradient ramps up and the real hard work of hiking into the alpine begins.

After countless switchbacks, the trail finally emerges from the forest with views of Excelsior Peak appearing, quickly followed by ever-expanding views across meadows west to Excelsior Pass and along the ridge toward Church Mountain. The trail sweeps around below the Peak to the Pass, which in summer takes you through a giant bouquet of wildflowers and in fall through some brilliant autumn colors.

As you approach the pass, jaw-dropping views of Mount Baker emerge. Take it in, then follow the unmarked trail above the High Divide to claim the peak and soak in 360-degree views of the North Cascades and into Canada.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Views/vistas. Alpine scenery. Fall colors. Horses allowed.

Cons

Steep. No tap water available on the trail. Horse droppings.

Trailhead Elevation

3,500.00 ft (1,066.80 m)

Highest point

5,700.00 ft (1,737.36 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

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