Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
We spent Sunday June 22 to Wednesday June 24th at Kulshan Campground at Baker Lake just south of Mt. Baker on the west edge of the North Cascades. Kulshan is owned and operated by Puget Sound Energy who owns the dam that creates Baker Lake. The campground has two sections. The west section has fairly closely spaced spots with a water spigot at each spot. The area is shaded with trees but has a funny feel to it. There were a number of RVs and tents still there when we arrived on Sunday afternoon. The east side, has spots that are more widely spaced but there’s no water. There was only one other RV parked on that side when we arrived. We took a spot on the east side with some shade because it felt better over there.

After we got settled in on Sunday we took a little drive to case out the campground and its facilities. There’s a day use area with boat ramp that gets a lot of use by the locals since it’s free. It has a great view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. People were out fishing in the area to the far left of the photo.

Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan at Baker Lake Kulshan

That’s Mt Baker on the left. Here’s a full of photo of her south face.

Mt Baker at Kulshan on Baker Lake WA

I think that this snow cloaked mountain is Mt. Shuksan. The pointy top peak is called Summit Pyramid.

Mt. Shuksan from Kulshan on Baker Lake

The next morning it was mostly sunny so we set out to drive to the end of the road at the north end of the lake. Kulshan is at the south end where the Baker River is dammed to form the lake. There are campgrounds all along the west shore of the lake and we stopped to have a look at all of them. Back in 2007 we’d camped at Panorama Point Campground and gotten eaten alive by the mosquitos. There are very few mosquitos yet this year, thank goodness. The only campground that we found (besides Kulshan) that had spots big enough for the Airstream was Horseshoe Cove Campground which looks fairly nice both for tenters and RVs. The other campgrounds all would make wonderful spots for folks with small trailers or tents.

The road turns to gravel and there are campsites along the edge of the road here and there (dispersed camping it’s called). We stopped at Shannon Creek Campground and took this photo from the day use area.

Baker Lake from Shannon Creek Campground

The lake ends with an enormous collection of driftwood on its north shores.

Driftwood on north end of Baker Lake WA

There’s a trailhead at the end of the road where you can take the Baker River trail on up the valley or the Baker Lake trail back down the east side of the lake. We stopped and used the restroom and when I came out this young bird—a barn swallow I think-- was sitting on a boulder preening it’s feathers.

Juvenile Barn Swallow at Baker Lake WA

We stopped at the Shannon Creek Campground’s Day Use Area on our way back to have our picnic lunch. We found a dead log to sit on and enjoyed the view.

It has a bit of sandy beach and there were even a few sunbathers enjoying the nice weather.

Shannon Creek Campgroung Day Use Baker Lake WA

We drove on back and I stopped to get a photo of the view looking southward on the lake.

Baker Lake looking south

Not long before you reach Kulshan again there’s a 1/2 mile nature/interpretive trail. We got out and took the little hike through the old growth forest.

There are some pretty big old Doug Firs. This one was estimated to be 600 years old, 7 feet in diameter and standing about 150 feet tall.

Walter Cooke and old growth Doug Fir

There was a lot of bunchberry (Cornus canedensis) in bloom.

 bunchberry (Cornus canedensis)

It was growing everywhere including up on the tree trunks—something I’d not seen before.

Bunchberry growing on tree trunks

The salmon berries were nearly ripe.

salmon berries

And there were huckleberries that while they LOOKED ripe, weren’t (sour--I tried them).


It rained that night and we awoke to a heavy low cloud deck on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t very cold and the rain had stopped so we decided to take the road across the Upper Baker Dam to the southern trailhead for the Baker Lake Trail. The road is gravel and climbs a ways to the trailhead but doesn’t end there. We wanted to know where it went so we kept going. And going and going until we were up in the clouds and couldn’t see much of anything and still the road went on. After a while, we gave up and found a wide spot in the road and turned around and headed back to the trailhead. (When we got back to the trailer we dug out our North Cascades trail map and it turns out the road winds up into the mountains to a trail that that starts just 3 miles from the Noisy Diosbud Wilderness which abuts North Cascades National Park.)

The Baker Lake Trail heads downhill towards the lake through fairly mature (if not true old growth) forest. There are lots of old moss draped alders, maples, hemlocks and western red cedars and the forest floor is carpeted with ferns.

Mossy Trees along Baker Lake Trail WA

There were bunches of bunchberries. This huckleberry bespangled with rain drops caught my eye.

Rain drops on red huckleberry leaves

Walter spotted this elevated nurse log. Unless that log falls in the next few years the little trees growing on it aren’t going to make it.

Elevated nurse log

Every now and then you get a glimpse of the lake through the trees.

Baker Lake from Baker Lake Trail WA

Here’s another elevated nurse log. If it breaks and shifts down hill it’s nursery might make it.

Elevated nurse log Baker Lake

There were masses of twinflowers (Linnaea borealis) along the way.

twinflowers (Linnaea borealis)

But most important were the big trees. This big granddaddy Western Red Cedar was growing right next to the trail. Trust me, he reaches to the sky.

Walter Cooke and old growth Western Red Cedar

When it rains the mosses unfurl in a way that makes them all soft and fluffy. I had to stop and take photos of them so you could see too.  

Moss in the rain Baker Lake wA

Moss in the rain

Moss in the rain

Moss in the rain

We had sun breaks off and on in afternoon and still had the campground to ourselves. On Wednesday we moved on to Rasar State Park just west of Concrete, WA so we could have showers and charge up the batteries. We’re still learning how long and how often we need to run the generator to keep the Airstream charged up. At Rasar our hot spot worked (even without the booster) and the Sprint cell phones worked but not the Verizon phone. At Kulshan we had no phones but the hot spot worked with the booster. Great fun, eh what?