Bald Mtn. & Cutthroat Lakes, Mt. Baker National Forest-Snoqualmie Trip Report
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October 3, 2004
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John is an avid hiker, spending a goodly portion of his time up in the hills, or sitting in front of a computer. Either way, most of what finds his eye is green, or blue, - organic, or lcd. John likes this website, hopes you do too, and invites you to write a review of a couple hikes you've done!
Directions: From Granite Falls, drive the Mountain Loop Highway east to Forest Road 4030 just before the red bridge. Turn right and drive 1.5 miles, then turn right on Forest Road 4032. Drive to the end at 5.7 miles, elevation 3,080 feet and the Walt Bailey trailhead.
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Trail notes: The Cutthroat lakes trail begins on very narrow logging road. Parking is scarce and turning around can be a real bear. Personally, I think the best place to park is a large loggin landing located about 5-10 minutes from the end of the road. From here you can even spy Bald mtn if you look up above.
The trail itself starts off through mixed oldgrowth forest. The underbrush is dense and mostly is made up of fir and some cedar. The trail undulates for about the first 30 minutes and gradually enters more open terretory. As you march along the opening begin to become more and more prominent until ultimatly you begin running into small ponds an lakes.
About this time you see a ridge to the south and a gradually rising ridge moving to the west. The trail continues along open meadows for about 20 minutes before deciding to switchback it's way up the ridge. There isn't anything too appealing about the switchbacks and the trail becomes ever more rough with large amounts of loose rock on the trail.
As you climb the switchbacks you have a pretty good sense of how far you are climbing and there as you near the top you can look across the valley (your first view) and spy Big 4 mountain and Vesper Peak. Continuing along another 5 minutes delivery you to the beginning of the Cutthroat lakes and provides a nice place to stop and have some food. In our case the dog was the happiest one to reach this point since it meant a well deserved swim. Note the net gain on this hike is 2800 but the realized gain is closer to the elevation listed
From the crest of the ridge you can see Bald Mountain in th distance - the large exposed rock face and trails go off in all sorts of directions. Some clue as to where to go can be determined from the relative usage of any trail, though it wasn't a certainty. If you are going to Bald Mountain it would be best to head northeast along the low slung valley's left wall. As you proceed along you will find the trail leading up towards Bald Mountain. If this is your end destination there are plenty of lakes to discover on the relativly flat area.
As you make your way along the trail en route to Bald Mountain you will have ever nicer views looking down to the Cutthroat lakes which you begin to realize are even more numerous than first thought. The trail itelf just contiues up the ridge until it meets another trail with a sign clearly indicating the trail to Bald mountain. The distance isn't marked.
Once you are on the Bald Mountain trail you hike another 20-30 minutes working your way along the ridgeline. It is here you get some wonderful views of Spada Lake, which is really very nice in the sun. As you make your way behind (eastern side) of Bald Mountain you will see a spur trail leading up towards Bald mountain. The trick here is to work your way to the right, or easter side of Bald Moutain so you don't have to get really crazy with the climbing, though you can take the chute straight ahead of the spur without too much difficulty.
Once you are on the eastern section of Bald mountain a couple cairns will help guide you up to the very top. It is pretty steep, and I would feel a little sketchy doing this on wet rock, but overall if you take your time you should be fine. Shortly thereafter you are on the top and enjoying a 360 degree view of all the surrounding peaks such as Sloan, Pugh, Vesper, and even Glacier Peak in the distance. We were also able to spy Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Rainier and the Puget Sound in the distance. Over all this is a very nice hike, and not very difficult for what it delivers. If you are looking for an easy hike, you might just want to stop at the Cutthroat Lakes and enjoy yourself there, if you want the ultimate view contiue on to the top of Bald Mountain - definently worth the effort!
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Reviewed By: Heath74 on Saturday, September 1, 2007 @ 08:16:05 PM
Just in case anyone is thinking of making this trip. You should know that the bridge is washed out 1 mile in on NF-4032.
Cutthroat Lakes Trip
Reviewed By: Adam on Monday, March 5, 2007 @ 02:59:06 PM
A couple friends of mine wanted to do a one nighter and decided to see the Cutthroat Lakes mid Sept 06. We got to the trailhead early enough to park there but due to the lack of turn around space we parked down the road more. The ground at the trailhead was plenty wet but it made for some beautifyl scenery on the way up. The trail isn't very wide and we didn't see that many people. The 4 of us average hikers worked our way up the trail with somewhat ease until we hit the switch backs...It's right what they say about this hike...It's like 2 in 1. Nevertheless we enjoyed a many wild blueberries when taking breaks on the way up. We did have a hard timer once at the top finding a good site and due to lack of fallen wood we couldn't make a fire. One thing we noticed is when entering into the valley where the lakes are the rain started. It didn't seem to rain where we had came from so i guess if there's rain in them clouds...ur gonna git some by the lakes...that might be how the lakes keep full? ;) We had an excellent time and would have liked to see Bald Mtn but we'll save that for next time...Beautiful country!
My Bald Mtn Adventure
Reviewed By: Max and Edgar the Dog on Friday, August 12, 2005 @ 04:38:25 PM
Went on this hike the first Monday of August...and loved it...until the trail went all crazy thru Cutthroat Lakes and the main trail is a pain in the arse to find. So as myself, and my two hiking doggies made it passed the lakes, we completely missed the turnoff for the Bald Mountain Trail. There is NOT a sign that faces the trail from Cutthroat Lakes....we headed down towards Ashland lakes, unknowningly, and the trail got pretty bad, so we turned around and saw the sign to the Bald Mtn Trail on the way back. If you are coming up from Cutthroat, the trail to Bald Mtn is impossible to see unless you are looking for it, as it actually heads to the right and behind you from the trail you are on. My advive is once you clear the lakes and head up, you will see Bald Mtn on your right...keep an eye out over your right shoulder for the trail.
The hike itself isn't all that hard, I gave it 4 hikers cause the sun POUNDS you once you get up near the lakes, andi t takes a lot out of you...on a cooler day it would be a three, and had I not got lost and missed the trail, I would have given it a 5 star, as the hike is wonderful, I will be back again next year...cant beat the views!
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