Heliotrope Ridge Trail is one of the most hiked trails in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. You can see many waterfalls and glaciers along the way. Below are just a few that can be seen at the trail head of Heliotrope Ridge Trail. Check the map below for direction.
Heliotrope Ridge Trail involves crossing of a few rivers/creeks (some big, some small) and glaciers if snow hasn’t melt. So check the trail condition at Glacier Public Service Center, prior to hiking!
Roosevelt Falls and Roosevelt Glacier
Head East on the Mt. Baker Highway to the town of Glacier. Just past the town turn right onto Glacier Creek Road. Follow Glacier Creek Road for 9.2 miles to Heliotrope Ridge Trail Head.
August 1, 2011: You will come to this amazing view of Mt. Baker on the left-hand side of Glacier Creek Road, just a few feet before the Heliotrope Ridge Trail Head.
August 1, 2011: Two waterfalls, one on each side, make up Roosevelt Falls. Above the falls is Roosevelt Glacier.
August 1, 2011: Zoom-in view of Roosevelt Falls and Roosevelt Glacier.
Rock Gnome Falls
Park at Heliotrope Ridge Trail Head and hike up the trail for about 1.8 miles to where the falls drops right next to the trail. You may have to cross a few creeks (some large and some small) and sometimes glaciers if snow hasn’t melt completely. So, wear water-proof boots, or you’ll end up with soaked cold feet!!
August 1, 2011: Standing at the base of Rock Gnome Falls. That huge chunk of ice on the left actually blocked the trail completely. Hikers had to walk over that slippery ice or walk around it through slippery, loose rocks in the creek. Either way, if you are not careful, you may end up in the valley down below! :-(
August 1, 2011: I came across this unknown creek before reaching Rock Gnome Falls. Then I realized I went to a wrong part of the trail and ended up at this dead end with a precipitous cliff!! :-( Thanks goodness, I did not continue further because the wrong trail became VERY DANGEROUS to hike! I remembered a few old folks passed before me, so I did not think they would be able to hike this section of precipitous trail. I walked back VERY SLOWLY due to steepness, and returned to the correct trail and saw Rock Gnome Falls above. This was my first time hiking Heliotrope Ridge Trail and I was a lone hiker myself; if I continued the wrong path, I might end up dead. So scary just to think about it, even today!!!
Follow the directions to Rock Gnome Falls. Continue the trail for another 1/4 of a mile to a nice view of Kulshan Falls. The trail continues a little further to amazing views of Mt. Baker and the Coleman Glacier as well as several other unnamed falls. The best view of Kulshan Falls (as shown in the photo below) is about 15 vertical feet below the trail at the second switchback where the falls are plainly visible. Kulshan Falls is by far the biggest accessible waterfall on Heliotrope Ridge Trail. This is very unfortunate, because it’s not up to my expectation after such a long uphill hike involved with crossing a few creeks and glaciers!!
August 1, 2011: You have to cross this part of Kulshan Creek, then hike up a short distance before reaching Kulshan Falls. You may think it is easy to cross this creek by looking at this photo, but it is NOT!!! The currents were very strong, due to melting down of heavy snow falls from January-March that year.
August 1, 2011: Kulshan Falls seen at the second switchback. I did not have enough time that day, otherwise I would go down the canyon and see the falls up close. It was 5:30pm when I hiked to this point. It would take another 90min to hike back to parking lot.
August 1, 2011: On my way back to town Glacier, I encountered this roadside waterfall on Glacier Creek Road. If I remembered correctly, it is the fourth creek, counting from Heliotrope Ridge Trail Head parking lot. In my opinion, this fall is way better than Rock Gnome Falls or Kulshan Falls, because it is by the road and does not require any tedious hiking.
Exact location of the trail head (parking lot) is indicated by Green Arrow on the following map (click EXTERNAL LINK below to view map). Zoom in to read the name of the forest road.