Excelsior Peak by Church Mountain via Excelsior Pass Trail / 愛克賽希爾峯

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Excelsior Peak by Church Mountain sits above Excelsior Pass in Mount Baker Wilderness. Meanwhile, the peak overlooks Nooksack River sitting at 4000′ below. Best of all, the ridge trail traverses through to Welcome Pass and offers spectacular views along the way.

Excelsior Peak up ahead
Excelsior Peak up ahead

See more trip photos here.

Excelsior Peak at a Glance

Access: Excelsior Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1840′-5712′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

The Preface

It felt great to check off a redo on Cleveland Mountain last weekend. Then today, we came up to the Mount Baker Highway area. Other than Mount Baker, I haven’t been up in this area much.

Excelsior Peak was a perfect excuse for revisiting the old stomping grounds. The pups and I have only made one outing on Church Mountain Lookout. But that was five years ago.

See more trip photos here.

High Divide Trail

There was enough parking at the trailhead since we were the only ones there! The concern I had was the snow conditions. It was already warm when we started after 9 AM. This area is a grizzly country. So we armed ourselves with bear spray and bear bells. The pups were also on the leash the entire time below the tree lines

The trail was in excellent shep. The switchbacks were enough to offset the elevation gain. So I knew it was likely a hikers paradise in the summer. Snow started showing up at 3800′. Then the trail disappeared just past the switchback there. Once I began to posthole, I then put on snowshoes at 3840′.

Gorgeous day
Gorgeous day

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Onward to Excelsior Peak

Later, we followed old tracks up to the clearing. Then we went back into the forest on firmer snow. From there, we were able to go straight up the hill. Before that, we were trying to go in the direction of the summer trail. Snowshoes came in very handy on this trip.

We went up another thousand feet. At the same time, we saw more old tracks going in different directions. But it was easier just to make our own. So we roamed through moderate to steep terrain until we were out of the forest at 5000′. It’s where the summer trail would usually veer left toward Excelsior Pass.

Excelsior Pass up above
Excelsior Pass up above

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Direct Approach

But the pups and I stayed straight. Then we went up onto the south shoulder of Excelsior Peak at 5400′. We took the steep slopes and went up toward the summit. Up until now, we were in the forest mostly. So there hadn’t been a whole lot to see.

Right above the tree line, the impressive views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan appeared. So I couldn’t help but make many stops for photos. Soon, we made our way through the last 300′ and went up to the top.

The last 300 feet to Excelsior Peak
The last 300 feet to Excelsior Peak

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Excelsior Peak Summit Plus Views

The summit was treeless with breathtaking views. They included the Canadian peaks north of the border, which was just several miles away. It was still early in the day. So we made a side trip over to Peak 5930. It was just a little over a mile to the east. So we could get a closer look at the eastern peaks.

We stayed on the ridge alongside snowmobile tracks mostly. But we would sometimes go back into the forest to avoid cornices. This summit was woodsy. So to see a clear view, we went down the east end. Then we stopped just as the elevation lowered. Views there were just as impressive.

Mount Baker
Mount Baker

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Outro

On the way down, we followed our trail to the saddle east of Excelsior Peak. Then we dropped into the basin while staying high. So we could meet up with our tracks on the south shoulder. It had become quite warm. But snowshoeing in slush still wasn’t too annoying yet.

Back in the forest, I saw some new boot tracks. But it looked like the person had turned around from postholing.

Colfax Peak and Lincoln Peak
Colfax Peak and Lincoln Peak

See more trip photos here.

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