Near Maple Falls, the series of alpine lakes, flowering meadows and constantly changing views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan distinguish the Chain Lakes Trail as one of Heather Meadows finest attractions. The trail is 6.5 miles one way from Artist Point to Bagley Lakes Trailhead (upper ski area parking lot), but can be a fine 7.0-mile loop using the Wild Goose Trail to return (uphill) to Artist Point.
The trail heads west from the Artist Point parking lot, skirting the lava walls at the base of Table Mountain. At about one mile, the trail reaches a junction. Follow the trail on the right, which soon drops to Mazama Lake, first of the Chain Lakes. Four campsites and a pit toilet are located here. A little bit further, look for frosty chunks of ice in the aptly named Iceberg Lake. Look for the Galena Camp junction and more toilet facilities between Iceberg and Hayes Lakes. Four more camps are located around Hayes Lake. No trail circles the lakes.
After climbing to Herman Saddle, the trail drops to Bagley Lakes, where hikers can then either continue straight ahead 0.5 mile to the ski area parking lot, for a one-way total mileage of 6.5 miles, or return 1.5 miles to Artist Point on the Wild Goose Trail (completing a 7.5 mile loop).
To return to Artist Point, access the Wild Goose Trail by crossing the arched bridge and following the Bagley Lakes Trail past the Heather Meadows Visitor Center to Terminal Lake. The Wild Goose Trail takes off to the right, gaining 900 feet in the final mile to Artist Point.
Snow can linger into summer, making trails difficult to follow. Be prepared for changes in the weather, use caution and always carry a map.
The Chain Lakes Trail enters the Mt. Baker Wilderness. In keeping with wilderness regulations, party size is limited to 12. No fires are allowed. Overnight visitors must camp at designated campsites, located at Mazama and Hayes Lakes.
A Northwest Forest Pass is required for each vehicle parked at the trailhead.
To reach the trailhead from Bellingham, drive east 58 miles on Highway 542 (Mount Baker Highway) to the Artist Point parking lot at Heather Meadows. Look for the trailhead at the northwest side of the parking area. This trailhead is shared with the Table Mountain and Ptarmigan Ridge trails. An alternate trailhead is located at the upper ski area parking lot at the Bagley Lakes Trailhead.