Climbing Yellow Aster Butte

Near Western Washington’s Canadian border, there is a “granola”-esque, fairly large college town called Bellingham. In addition to a Wal-Mart that draws loads of economical Canadians into town on Sundays. This part of Northern Washington is home to lots of natural outlets, including ocean-front parks, and the Mt. Baker wilderness. Mt. Baker is Washington’s 3rd tallest mountain rising to 10,781ft.


Home to Western Washington University, Bellingham also offers a lot of rural, farm charm, and is a nice escape from the busy area around Washington’s Puget Sound. My friend, Katie, had welcomed me up to her place just outside the city, and in addition to spending some time around horses, we planned to do a highly touted hike called Yellow Aster Butte, which is about 30 miles east toward Mt. Baker. Aside from receiving high ratings on the Washington Trails Association website, Katie had also heard good things about this hike from several of her friends.

The hike is pretty great. The trail is about 7.5 miles round trip, and starts off with several switchbacks gaining elevation. There were many wildflowers out on this late-summer day, and I encountered my first Red Indian Paintbrush in the wild (I took home souvenirs and they are drying in my Odyssey book.) I had encountered Yellow up in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, but this Red was so brilliant, and after seeing pictures of it around Rainier, I was excited to capture it in the wild.

In addition to the flowers, this hike was really great for the mountains. It was my first time in the Mt. Baker wilderness, and it’s nothing to scoff at. From views of Mt. Baker at the get-go, to the stupendous view of multitudes of peaks and valleys from the Butte, this hike was well worth the climb.

Active youth, as well as older hikers were traipsing along this well-worn path on Labor Day. Despite being sunny out, the trail goes through a snow field that one must traverse carefully. Delicious, low-brush blueberries are also available to snack on toward the peak.  

Ashley Crane is on Twitter. Follow her at @WildAshC

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