Backpacking Yellow Aster Butte
TOTAL DISTANCE/ASCENT: 8.5 MILES AND 2,600 FT
REQUIRED PERMIT: NONE
DOG FRIENDLY: YES
LOCATION: MT. BAKER WILDERNESS
RECREATION PASS: NORTHWEST FOREST PASS
Somehow we’ve been blessed with the nicest October of all time in the PNW. Ryan had the weekend off, so we took advantage and planned to backpack to Yellow Aster Butte. The day light would be limited, temps would be cooler, but to get out with no bugs or heat and fall colors is the ideal hike for me.
The road going up is a very rough, 5 miles of forest road driving. When we arrived, there were a good amount of cars there already. There is not a parking lot, but a narrow road cars park up and down. There is a register to sign in at, but the papers were all full when we got there. Side note- these are important to fill out not for safety as much, but for rangers to monitor usage of trails. Show that we are using the trails so funding and resources can go to the right places!
We started the hike and right away it was steep. We packed heavy packs as this one wasn’t going to be so tough, but we were feeling it right here. The first couple miles are consistent with gain and then in the middle there is a flat section that evens out.
We had to head up towards the summit of Yellow Aster Butte, keep going under it to reach the camp area, which is a descent decline from the base of the summit.
To get down to the tarns is a steep decline on tight switchbacks. You arrive to a nice large tarn at the bottom right away.
We had no idea the best area to camp in the large basin, but it was a little breezy so we didn’t want to be at the highest point. Nothing is more annoying than wind whipping the tent all night. We continued to a spot with a great view of Shuksan and able to see Mt. Baker as well. Next time if it wasn’t windy, I would probably choose a higher up camp spot. Plenty of durable surfaces to choose from, so please don’t pick a meadow to set up camp on. Lots of tarns to filter from. A notice at the trailhead said pack out all human waste in a blue bag. They did not provide a blue bag, so bring your own. There is also a toilet at the trailhead.
I am a recent new ambassador for Trailfork and have gotten to try a new of their meals on recent trips! I’ve been really happy with the quality of the food and taste. Try them out the next time you need a backpacking meal!
We had a rough night of sleep with the cold and noisy neighbors, but awoke and got up to adventure for sunrise. We climbed a bit higher trying to see the good light. We then came back to camp and made breakfast + coffee, taking a slow morning. We had many friends day hiking up to join us, so we packed up and all hung out at our camp area before hiking back.
Such a great, relatively easy backpacking trip with awesome views. There are ways to extend this or make it more challenging- there are a few peaks nearby that you could add on and scramble. We opted out with having Cooper with us.
Just something about those North Cascade peaks that always bring me back. Till next time.