Nooksack Cirque Trail is a 9.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Maple Falls, WA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from June until November.
Directions from Glacier: Travel east on Mt. Baker Hwy. 542 for 12.5 miles. Turn left on Forest Road #32 (Hannegan Pass Road), just before the Nooksack River bridge. Follow Road #32 for a little more than a mile to Forest Road #34. Turn right on Road #34. After one mile, the road meets Ruth Creek, where there is no longer a bridge. This is as far as it is possible to travel by car.
The trail is in good condition until you reach the first two camp grounds. Don't worry about crossing Ruth Creek (in the Summer), it is easy and there are two logs specifically cut for the purpose. If you can walk (sober) without falling over, you can cross this creek without getting wet.
It is a nice hike although it is one of those hikes where the destination is the goal, not the hike. If you are used to the mountains in anyway, this hike will not impress. What is nice is the end where the campgrounds are, you will camp and sleep right next to the Nooksack River.
Once past the campgrounds the trail is completely unmaintained and is in desperate need of a work crew for a weekend. Even 4-5 people with machetes would make this much more pleasant. That said, my family and I had a very enjoyable time.
Everything about this hike is easy except the very begining. The log crossing at ruth creek was pretty wild. Not super difficult but the room for error is zero as ther is a log jam immediatly down stream. After the crossing you follow the only trail to the end where you will find a couple of nice campsites. We never made it all the way to the bottom of the glacier because ofconditions, and the fear of having to cross that damn log again with noodle legs. It does look like a fun place to camp. NW FOREST PASS REQUIRED.
Trail starts on abandoned logging road beyond Ruth Creek washout. From trail head either descend right to cross log jam or left to ford if Ruth Creek is low enough. Hike follows roadbed for two miles, then a narrow trail takes you into old growth forest and Mt Baker Wilderness. After 3.6 miles the maintained portion of the trail ends at a good camp site (fires allowed here) near the river with views to Icy Peak. Casual visitors will want to stop here, or meander along the immediate river area. Hardy folk will want to continue, following beaten tread near the forest edge, sometimes in the trees, sometimes on the bank, but always on the north side of the river. The river bed is braided with channels but on a cool day the river may only occupy its main channel, exposing miles of dry gravel bars. However, as the day warms the water rises hourly and spills out of its banks to fill other channels, and areas along the forest edge may become swampy or too deep to navigate. About one mile from the trail's end an enormous alluvial fan creates a slight bend in the valley. If at all possible, try to round the forest edge on the gravel bars. Crossing the alluvial fan is nearly impossible due to treacherous boulder field s and fierce brush thickets full of nettles and devils club. Also, the fan is bordered by marshy areas and alder thickets too dense to penetrate. At one point a ford of the river's main channel may be required to continue. Always make rock piles to mark a crossing, as the scene can appear unfamiliar later on, which leads to frustration and could result in being stranded overnight. At 5.5 miles the valley trends to the south (good camp site below Ruth Mtn, but fires not allowed) affording views both northwest and due south to Nooksack Glacier and the top-most part of Nooksack Tower. Climb an L-shaped gully on the south slopes of Nooksack ridge for incredible views, or continue along the east bank of the river to a narrow squeeze that prohibits further progress unless you feel like diving into nightmare thickets of relentless, cutting and burning riparian vegetation, swarming with flies, that positively drain energy and spirit. If, after all this, you find yourself next to the Great Trog, or in the upper basin itself under its many waterfalls, consider yourself a very lucky person.