Scott Paul Trail (Aug 9, 2020)

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scott_paul_trail_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Baker Pass
Area: Mt Baker
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 9.83mi, 2182' gain (round trip)
Weather


I've been on a COVID quest to find trails that are quiet. I don't spend much time hiking on the south side of Mt Baker but lately I've been thinking of the Schriebers Meadows area. My reservation was parking and the crowds. Then a friend posted some gorgeous photos of the Scott Paul Loop Trail and that set the hook. He mentioned only seeing a few people all day AND...the upper bridge was out. My plan was to get to the trailhead early, start early and do the trip clockwise (avoiding the super busy Park Butte trail later in the day when lots of people would be hiking out). The only problem...my America the Beautiful Pass was expired. REI is sold out. I checked with the friend...were they enforcing the pass at the TH. Ugh...yes. Note: the notification (none) and enforcement of the pass during COVID is inconsistent and it's hard to find any info even on the FS website. So I arrived early (I could have squeezed into the pass area but decided to park just outside the enforcement area (I didn't want to risk a ticket).

I left the car (3245') early-ish, about 8:40am and walked the short .4mi to the trailhead. I was quickly able to hike the section of trail through the meadows and only saw a few people. I made one boneheaded bad move turning right after the TH onto the Scott Paul Trail. I quickly realized my error (going up this trail would have meant doing the trip counter clockwise...I wanted to do it clockwise). I made my way back down to the Park Butte trail, through the meadows and up the switchbacks until I hit the switchback where the Scott Paul trail peals off heading right (go left to go up Park Butte) (4449').

The trail was in the woods the first bit and then popped out into the open with stunning views of Baker. I made the right choice bringing my heavy-ass big camera and extra lens! I reached the upper creek crossing and as posted...found the bridge missing. I brought sandals (so swapped then in) and crossed the creek about 75' upstream of the bridge. It's a really short crossing so after that...boots went back on. The area was so pretty that I decided to plop myself down on the other side of the bridge to enjoy the views and have lunch.

After lunch the views continued. I reached the high point on the trail at about 5209' (5.33mi...including my earlier error). The trail is pretty cool winding in and out along the mountain following the errosional gullies. I reached the Sulphur Creek crossing (5048', 5.84mi) and continued on taking in the views and making lots of stops for photos. I hit a "landing" as I started the descent at about 6.86mi (4618') and soon after this I was mostly in trees the rest of the way down to the car. Saw some wildlife (western toads) and some cool plants (pinesap).
 
Scott Paul Trail Slideshow

scott_paul_trail_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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