Table Mountain

This Table Mountain is located eight miles northeast of Mount Baker and is set in the picturesque alpine lake setting of Artist Point at the end of the Mount Baker Highway. This mountain is often photographed from Austin Pass which is just above the Mount Baker Ski Area. The proximity to the ski area makes Table Mountain a popular backcountry ski objective in the winter months. The Mount Baker Ski Area reported 1,140 inches (95 feet) of snowfall for the 1998-99 snowfall season which set a record for the most snowfall ever measured in the United States in a single season. However, Table Mountain becomes an extremely popular day hike in late summer once the road is plowed of snow in mid-summer. The view from the top is incredible as one gets big vistas of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, Mt. Larrabee and the Border Peaks, and many more. The best time to visit is in late September when the snow has melted away and the brilliant autumn colors are starting.

"At Artist Point the views are even better than from the Mount Baker ski area below. The dark prow of Table Mountain dominates the scene to the west. The parking area is on the same dark andesite as Table Mountain, but to really appreciate this old lava ridge-cap, take the trail around it by way of the Galena Chain Lakes or climb over it. The top is table-like because it reflects the original surface of the thick lava flow. The Table Mountain flow in particular is so thick that geologists think it must have flowed into a constraining canyon in which the molten rock formed a lava lake. Because of the wild, crazy columnar joints that occur along the sides of Table Mountain, volcanologist Wes Hildreth suggests the flow may have been constrained by glacial ice! Other flows of about the same age underlie the ski area and make up parts of Ptarmigan Ridge, stretching off to the southwest. After these valley-filling lava flows solidified, streams and/or glaciers worked on the edges of the flows more efficiently than in the center and eventually left the remnants as ridge tops. Erosion produced this marvelous topographic inversion after the lavas erupted about 300,000 years ago. These are not Mount Baker lavas; they erupted from an older volcanic vent located somewhere near the northeast flank of the present Mount Baker cone. Under the dark lavas of Table Mountain, and forming white cliffs above Swift Creek, are the older volcanic deposits of Kulshan Caldera. The edge of this large volcanic depression is more or less directly beneath the parking area. The caldera is, about 2.5 miles across. It formed and was filled with volcanic tuff (the rock formed from volcanic ash) about 1.1 million years ago, when the magma chamber beneath it erupted, and its roof collapsed. Similar volcanic calderas, such as the one filled by Crater Lake in Oregon, have produced huge volumes of ash in cataclysmic eruptions. Volcanologists have identified ash deposits from the Kulshan volcanic eruption as far away as southern Puget Sound. The caldera itself is filled with over 3,000 feet of rhyolite tuff from such an eruption." - USGS

Directions: From I-5 at Bellingham, drive east on the Mt Baker Highway (542) all the way to the end at the Artist Point parking lot. The trailhead is easily located at the west edge of the parking lot. The one mile trail gains 600 feet as it switchbacks up through lava cliffs on the east end to the top of Table Mountain where it continues across the top of the mountain to the summit at the west end. This trail has some exposure and is dangerous when snow still covers the trail. Ice axe recommended in early season. It is not recommended for children. Table Mountain is located in the Mt. Baker National Forest and subject to its fees.

For information on Table Mountain trail refer to Pacific Northwest Hiking by Ron C. Judd & Dan A. Nelson, or, Day Hike North Cascades by Mike McQuaide, or, Hiking the North Cascades by Eric Molvar.

County: Whatcom

Prominence: 422 feet

Elevation (feet): 5,742
Elevation (meters): 1,750
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Range/Region: Cascade Range
State: Washington
Latitude: 48.847745
Longitude: -121.71371
Difficulty: Walk up
Best months for climbing: Aug, Sep
Nearest major airport: Seattle-Tacoma
Convenient Center: Bellingham

Thanks to theyogiclimber for adding this peak.

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