Just under two miles past the town of Glacier, after crossing the North Fork of the Nooksack River, a gravel lot sits to the right of Mount Baker Highway. Here, directly across Douglas Fir Campground, is the start of a must-do trail: Horseshoe Bend.
Shadowing the Nooksack, Horseshoe Bend is an easy to moderate trail that’s both family- and dog-friendly. With an elevation gain of just 220 feet, the most difficult obstacles are tangles of tree roots and the possibility of mud. For those who like to meander off the path (as we all do), be aware of an occasional drop-off when the trail stands higher than the river. Otherwise, the well- maintained path includes sturdy, wooden bridges, stairs, and a bench.
When you’re roughly 20 to 30 feet from the rushing river (for nearly the entire hike), stop and observe the water’s strength. Besides the consistent, calming rumble, rapids duck and twist among sturdy boulders and smoothed stones. Fallen trees lay scattered and stacked like collapsed Lincoln Logs along the water’s edges.
Turn your gaze from the mesmerizing waters and the Nooksack’s surroundings remain impressive. Rich, bright moss weighs down tree branches and anchors onto tree trunks and rocks, merging with ferns and other vegetation. From the tip of the trees to the old-growth forest oor, you’re immersed in shades of green.
Whether you do the entire hike (less than three miles round trip) or turn around early, Horseshoe Bend is a satisfying trek. I mean, where else can you easily creep amid the Nooksack’s wrath?
Just be sure to do your part and pay for parking – your money supports necessities like trail crews, bridge maintenance, and sign replacements. This trail requires a Northwest Forest Pass and can be purchased at National Forest Of ces or online. The Glacier Public Service Center, only 1.8 miles south of the trailhead, has an ATM set up specically for passes. (It’s also a good place for a public restroom as there are none at Horseshoe Bend).
Day passes are $5 per car and annual passes are $30. You can print out day passes ahead of time at home and simply write the date you use it before placing it on your dash. It’s that easy. Horseshoe Bend is passable year- round. What are you waiting for?