The temperatures have dropped the last few days—clear, crisp, and cold—meaning it was an opportune time to get in a little mid-November hike! We wanted one last trek in the mountains, but with snow levels plummeting and snow-shoes stowed away in some back corner of storage, we had to find the perfect hike. Turning to recent trail reports courtesy of WTA, the solution was clear: Yellow Aster Butte. Snow-free trailhead access and compact snow on trail, Yellow Aster Butte is one of the few trails in the Mount Baker area that is still accessible in current conditions.
Meadows are now snow fields, veined with iced-over streams. The flank of Yellow Aster in this stretch was the picture of a mountain expedition: towering wall of snow, boulder flecked, craggy peaks stretching on either side. At just over 2.5 miles, encounter a steep climb over the south shoulder. There are slick patches of ice here, frozen streams becoming staircases of ice. Choose a route you're comfortable with, as even those with the surest of footing will still slip on ice.
The trail wanders on for another mile or so, until hitting the final 600-foot steep climb up to the promontory of Yellow Aster Butte. From here, the views of the surrounding peaks are spectacular. Tomyhoi Peak, the Border Peaks, and Larrabee to the north. Craggy Goat Mountain and Mounts Shuksan and Baker to the south. With daylight not on our side and temperatures dropping, we chose not to take on the last accent, choosing instead to simply enjoy the late-sunlight on the flanks of Shuksan and Baker before navigating our way back down, reaching the trailhead just before dark.
For additional information on Yellow Aster Butte, including more photos and detailed directions, check out the following:
Washington Trails Association (WTA)