Top 20 Washington State Trips

Baker Lake

Baker Lake

Baker Lake in Washington State is a gorgeous place to camp, picnic or swim.

Baker Lake is 2.5 hours north of Seattle.  It can be reached by taking the Baker Lake exit off Highway 20, a few miles west of the township of Concrete. 

Take a day trip to Baker Lake to enjoy its beautiful beaches and lakeside trails, or plan a camping trip. There are three campgrounds and day use areas at Baker Lake, at Horseshoe Cove, Swift Creek and Shannon Creek.

This pristine sub-alpine lake is surrounded by old growth forest and has breathtaking views of snowcapped Mt Baker. It's the jewel of the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State.

Use manual pay stations at Baker Lake, or purchase an annual pass. Always check road conditions to Baker Lake, closed during colder months. 

5 best things to do at Baker Lake

1. Drive 38 miles along the scenic western shore at Baker Lake.

This 38 mile scenic drive travels along Baker Lake Road on the western shore of Baker Lake. It starts at the small township of Concrete, and ends at Shannon Creek Campground at Baker Lake.

It passes Horseshoe Cove Campground, Boulder Creek, Swift Creek Campground, and ends at Shannon Creek Campground.  Be aware that the final section of the road from Swift Creek to Shannon Creek is unsealed.

Looking for the most picturesque parts of Baker Lake? Then prioritize Swift Creek and Shannon Creek.

2. Swim or picnic at Horseshoe Cove (campground & day use area).

It's an easy 15-mile drive from the township of Concrete, to Horseshoe Cove Campground at Baker Lake.

There are plenty of picnic tables along the shoreline for day use visitors, a swimming area, and a gravel ramp boat launch area.  Flush and vault toilets are also available.  Book one of 38 seasonal campsites at Horseshoe Cove here, including 3 group campsites. 

The turnoff to Horseshoe Cove Campground at Baker Lake is clearly visible with good signage.

The gravel ramp boat launch area at Horseshoe Cove gets very busy!

Baker Lake is perfect for kayaking, and there's a lot of lake to explore!  Baker Lake is almost 9 miles long, with a surface area of 4,800 acres.

The main swimming area at Horseshoe Cove at Baker Lake is surrounded by thick forest.

3. See incredible views of Mt Baker from the road at Swift Creek.

See breathtaking views of the southwestern face of Mt Baker, when driving along Baker Lake Road and crossing Swift Creek. Wow!  Drive slowly so you don't miss it.

Mt Baker is 10,781 feet high, and is a glacier-covered strato-volcano.  It's been 6,700 years since it last erupted, however it can occasionally let off a steam plume from its Sherman Crater.  Mt Baker is third highest mountain in Washington State, after Mt Rainier and Mt Adams, visible from Baker Lake.

Swift Creek is one of the waterways that feeds Baker Lake.  The lake was originally a smaller body of water, until the Baker Lake Dam was built downstream in 1959, raising the lake's water level by an astounding 312 feet. 

4. Swim or picnic at Swift Creek Campground (and day use area).

The picturesque Swift Creek Campground has a day-use area, with picnic tables, a fantastic swimming beach, picnic shelter, and bathrooms.  Boats can be launched from a paved boat ramp and a 20-slip dock.

The Swift Creek Campground at Baker Lake has 49 sites, 1 RV loop and 2 group sites, and you can book a campsite here

The picnic tables have a stunning lakefront view, perfect for lunch, with distant views of 7,685 foot Mt Blum in the North Cascades National Park.

The sandy beach at Swift Creek Campground is popular with visitors, but gets more pebbly near the water's edge at Baker Lake.

5. Enjoy incredible views from Shannon Creek Campground (and day use area).

Shannon Creek is a more peaceful, secluded area, and is well worth the extra drive, along an unsealed section of road.

The day use area has lakeside picnic tables, a pebbly swimming area, and a vault toilet.  During Sockeye season, the boat ramp is for the exclusive use of Shannon Creek Campground users.

The smaller campsite has 19 sites and can be booked here

There are peep-through views of 6,280 foot Mt Watson from the beach at Shannon Creek Campground.

The beach at Shannon Creek Campground at Baker Lake, is much quieter than the other day use areas.

More views of Mt Blum from the beach at Shannon Creek Campground.

The beautiful Swift Creek,

Handy tips before you visit Baker Lake

  • Check road conditions to Baker Lake: Always check road conditions to Baker Lake, closed during colder months.

  • Get a day use pass:  Use manual pay stations, or purchase an annual pass.

  • There are 3 day use & campsite areas at Baker Lake:  Horseshoe Cove, Swift Creek, Shannon Creek.

  • Make campside bookings here:  Horseshoe Cove campsite bookings, Swift Creek campsite bookings, Shannon Creek campsite bookings.

  • Closest cafes & shops are at Concrete.

  • Get hiking maps here:  Mt Baker Ranger at Sedro Woolley.

  • There are no lifeguards at Baker Lake: Swim at your own risk.

Other beautiful lakes for you to see in the area.

Diablo Lake is further along the highway, 39-miles east of Baker Lake.  Visit the Diablo Lake Overlook for stunning views, or book a Diablo Lake Boat Tour.

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