the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Fall’s Come and Gone at Heather Meadows

Shuksan and Picture LakeI went with a friend and my trusty dog Carson (just over two weeks ago) to Heather Meadows at the end of the Mount Baker Highway (in a earlier post, I gave a Quick Shot from the trip). The fall colors were fantastic, as I hope these images show. Want to go for the colors? You may be too late. The fall color season was short at Heather Meadows this year (though it’s probably short most years). A trail report on the Washington Trails Association websitedidn’t mention fall colors on September 30th, nor did the accompanying photos show much.  And as of October 22nd, according to the US Forest Service website, all the Heather Meadows trails are now snow-covered, the lakes have started freezing over, and the road is gated at the ski area’s upper parking lot – a good distance below Artist Point were about half of these photos were taken. Winter has come to Heather Meadows. Fall lasted about 3 weeks.

Though on the Mount Baker Highway, the real star of the Heather Meadows area is Mount Shuksan. The view of Mt. Shuksan from Picture Lake (the featured image above) is one of the most photographed scenes in Washington State. Unfortunately, when we were there, there was a breeze, ruining the reflection in Picture Lake, but it still made a great scene.

Besides Picture Lake, we drove up to the end of the highway at Artist Point and did the short hike along Artist Ridge. Again, Shuksan is the star here – though the view of Mount Baker is good too. We were there in the afternoon (and later, at sunset), and the light was much better on Shuksan than Baker. I venture that Baker looks better in morning light (but with a 5+ hour drive from Tacoma, I wasn’t about to get there early).

Unlike the northeastern United States, the Northwest is not know for its autumn colors. This is not surprising, considering the primary tree cover in the Pacific Northwest is composed of firs, pines, and other evergreens. But, there are some spots where fall color can be found. The Heather Meadows area is one – you just have to be quick to see it.

Grass in Picture Lake

Grass patterns in Picture Lake

Fall Colors

Fall color along the Mount Baker Highway below Artist Point

Fall at Picture Lake

Another shot of Mount Shuksan at Picture Lake

Picture Lake Shoreline

Color along the Picture Lake shoreline

Mount Shuksan

Mount Shuksan from the Artist Ridge trail

Mount Baker Highway

The Mount Baker Highway just below Artist Point


Close up on red huckleberry leaves – I love how the backlighting brings out the color.

Shuksan from Artist Ridge

Mt Shuksan from the end of the Artist Ridge trail

Carson Hanging Out

Carson hanging out, enjoying his hike

Shuksan Sunset

Mount Shuksan from Artist Point at sunset

Pointing to Shuksan

It’s impossible not to point the camera at Mount Shuksan. Even the clouds point to at it!

23 responses

  1. sjophotography

    wow, so amazing. This makes me feel like im living in a shoe box. Beautiful work

    October 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm

  2. Beautiful, gorgeous. Nice work! bill

    October 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm

  3. Beautiful scenes – beautifully captured!!! 🙂 **

    October 28, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    • Thanks Xandre! You know that this area is very close to Canada; of all the people we met up there that day (and with Carson, people notice you), most were from Canada.

      October 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

      • Oooeee… that is gooood news!!! We’ll visit there for sure then in the future!!! 🙂 **

        October 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

  4. Reblogged this on Iris Pinson.

    October 29, 2012 at 2:28 am

  5. Wonderful photos

    October 29, 2012 at 3:29 am

  6. you sure are good with colors these shots are wonderful

    October 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

    • Thank you for your kind comment. It’s easy to be good with colors where they are as brilliant as they were.

      October 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

  7. Si foto molto belle. Da noi l’autunno è appena iniziato, quest’anno la stagione del riposo sembra timida.

    October 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm

  8. Allan Chartrand

    Phenomenal shots, Joe! The Galena Chain Lakes trail, which leaves from Artists’ Point and meanders around the two massive peaks, is one of the most spectacular hikes in the North Cascades (hence the country); features prominent and unforgettable views of both Mt. Shuksan (note spelling; just a friendly correction from a fellow spelling fanatic!) and Mt. Baker. I’d send you pictures, but compared to your masterpieces, I’m embarrassed……


    October 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    • Thanks Allan. I’ve always wanted to do the Chain Lakes hike, but decided it was too long for this particular trip (especially with Carson, I don’t think he can do something of that length anymore). And thanks for the spelling tip as well 🙂

      October 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm

  9. elmdriveimages

    Joe: Wonderful shots…great color…you really do great work.

    October 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  10. figliadiali

    Fell in love with your shots. Just amazing!

    November 5, 2012 at 3:58 am

  11. First time on your blog and love this post! Are most of these shots HDR? If so they are beautifully done.

    November 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    • Mike, glad you like the blog. The shots on this particular post are not HDR. I shoot in RAW and try to process to bring out details in both the shadows and the highlights.

      November 24, 2012 at 12:48 am

  12. I enjoy how your post-processing choices make the final image appear hyper-real without being startling. It really enhances your interpretation of the scene. These images make me want to get in my car and head that way next fall.

    December 6, 2012 at 8:06 am

    • Thanks, I try with post-processing to to always keep it looking real. Sometimes, I admit, I do go overboard and have to tone it back later. I think I did a good job on the shot you mention.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      • Hyper-real in this case is not a criticism – I really like how all the details in the image just come out clearly. It really gives me the sense of being there. You’re right – not every image works but this one is grand.

        December 8, 2012 at 7:35 pm

  13. Pingback: A Hidden Autumn Jewel | joebeckerphoto

  14. Pingback: Fall in Washington | joebeckerphoto

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