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Mount Baker Geology 1: Fire and Ice in Morovitz Meadow NCI

Location: Mt Baker south slope
Organization: North Cascades Institute
Cost: $95

This all-day hiking field trip explores the glacial and volcanic geology along the trail to the Railroad Grade moraine on Mount Baker’s south slope.

The trail traverses Schreiber’s Meadow beside a cinder cone, crosses a boisterous, muddy glacial outwash stream on a sturdy bridge and switchbacks through the forest to the glorious views from Morovitz Meadows.

Beyond, we reach the sudden sharp crest of the Railroad Grade moraine for even more astounding views.

Along the way, we will see volcanic ash and lahar deposits — including from the most recent eruption of Mount Baker — and overlapping lava flows, a stupendous 19th Century glacial moraine and the rapidly receding terminus of the Easton Glacier. The glacier’s raw, boulder strewn, barely re-vegetated deglaciated valley lies directly below our feet. Steaming Sherman Crater, the summit plateau of Mount Baker, the eroded crags of the ancient Black Buttes volcano rise above, and the peaks of the northern Cascades recede into the distance.

This field excursion will cover 3.5 miles and gain 1,440’ to Railroad Grade, with the option to continue on as interest and stamina allow, and participants should be able to hike uphill for 2-3 hours and then back down. Sturdy hiking boots are recommended, as is a well-developed sense of wonder and curiosity.

Geologist Dave Tucker is the author of the book Geology Underfoot in Western Washington and a lead researcher at the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center.

For more information, or to register, go to: North Cascades Institute