Church Mountain is a 8.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Maple Falls, WA that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is accessible from June until October.
See a vast panorama of North Cascades mountains, including Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, Damfino Lakes, Border Line peaks, Goat mountain and Skyline ridge.
Strenuous but rewarding.
FR3040 is a one lane unpaved mountain access road where you hope not to meet any cars coming the other way; I only encountered a couple of pot holes. Almost any passenger car should be able to make it up the road OK.
The outhouse at the trail head looks (and smells) like it's brand new.
The trail is in excellent condition and easy to follow. Elevation gain is constant. There is only one flat spot shortly after you enter the meadows, but otherwise you're hiking up the side of the mountain at a fairly consistent grade.
If you have a water filter there are two places to get water on the hike. The first water is just before you reach the meadows there is a small creek running through the woods, the second (and best) place to get water is at Deer Horn Creek just after you enter the meadows.
The first part of the hike is a trudge up a bunch of switchbacks through the woods, but then you enter beautiful alpine meadows where the scenery and the views of the surrounding peaks are spectacular.
You know you're almost to the top when you see the ruins of what used to be a lookout tower. The last part of the hike is a short scramble up some rocks to the summit. If you're afraid of heights you might not like that part, but most people should be OK.
The hike is fairly steep and if you're out of shape or hiking on a hot day it can kick your butt. There is no shade in the meadows, so you may wish to bring sunglasses and sunscreen if it's a sunny day.
By far my most breath-taking summit yet. I loved this hike. There was so much to look at all the way up. There was quite a lot of snow on the back part of the meadow and if there had not been hiker tracks before ours, we wouldn't have been able to know where to go. We got a late start (12:20) and didn't expect to summit due to a ranger at the station saying there was probably too much snow and that we would need snow gear to get past the meadow. We talked to a couple of lady hikers appearing to be in their 50s who were on their way down and had made the summit, so it was game on. (It was July, so we had plenty of daylight.) After getting through the snow - my least favorite part - we summitted right about 5 pm and stayed until about 6 and then headed down and were back to the car by 7:30 ish. The summit took my breath away! Do this hike!