Anderson Mountain (WA)

April 7, 2022


Bellingham, WA

Anderson Mountain is one of the few dumpster-ish summits in the vicinity of Bellingham that boast substantial prominence despite the lowly status. This peak is slightly taller than some of the other ones and offers slightly better views. Logging roads go almost to the summit from all sides, but the very summit is free of communication structures. The “standard route” seems to come up from the south-east but Matt proposed to link up roads with mountain biking trails from the west. Distance and elevation wise the two sides are roughly equal, but the west side approach offers more variety, especially for us using bikes.

I had to be home no later than noon to prepare for the afternoon/evening work and Matt needed a peak over 600 m prominence as always. Putting the limitations together our only options were down south in Washington and thankfully the border restrictions had just been lifted, such that no pre-entry COVID test is required. Anderson Mtn. seemed like the shortest option considering the short driving distance, so the decision was easily made. Matt needed at least a full day’s outing, so opted to drive separately so that he could tag another summit in the afternoon. I woke up at 5:30 am and arrived at the “trail-head” at 6:40 am a little later than planned as I needed some stops for food and gas. The “trail-head” was not very spacious at all but we somehow managed to squeeze the two trucks into that tiny slot.

Anderson Mountain west side approach with bikes. GPX DL

Right off the bat Matt led us riding onto a trail but the trail immediately gave way to a (gated) road. The road gained elevation quite rapidly that I had to push the bike at times even though over the past season I had developed some uphill riding muscles. About 2 km into the trip we left the road onto another stretch of biking trails. These trails were a bit advanced (muddy, narrow with ruts) for me to ride upwards, so I pushed the bike for most of the way. A handful switchbacks later we popped back onto the road but the road immediately gave way back to the trails.

Matt riding one of the FSR connectors
Me riding that short stretch of roads between two trails. Lake Whatcom behind.
Me transitioning from road to trail

Matt had done a great job in navigation so far. I had done zero research about where those mountain biking trails and some of them weren’t even labelled on my Gaia map, so I just followed. The next stretch of the trail was short, but had worse quality (more ruts and muds). After popping back onto the road we decided to just ride/push the bikes up the road for the rest of the way. The upper roads on this mountain were very steep such that I could at most ride half of the stretches. At around 700 m we started to encounter continuous snow thank to the recent dump a couple days prior, and the snow was wet and slushy. The uphill biking started to become even more strenuous. Thankfully Matt was able to ride ahead to set a track and by following the exact tire tracks it was actually not that terrible. I had no idea how Matt managed to set the tracks though. Eventually at 850 m elevation we decided to ditch the bikes as we were mostly directly under the summit anyway. The road would continue a long ways due south. We determined the roads were rather inefficient, and opted for a direct bushwhack finish. The forest was mostly tolerable that in short time we popped onto the uppermost (overgrown) spur roads. The true summit was a bit confusing to determine, but we just visited the two high point contenders just to be sure. There’s actually some views from the southern contender and neither one had a road to the top nor any man-made structures beside a camping chair.

Matt leading onto the upper switchbacks, starting to encounter snow
Looking back at Lookout Mountain which is another P600m objective nearby
The road is steeper than it looks. The uphill riding was tiresome…
Even Matt had to push the bike when the snow became deep and slushy
Our fatbikes were parked
Twig taking a much-needed break…
Twig seemed to love chewing sticks
Matt leading the bushwhack short-cut to hit the summit directly
To reach the southern high point contender we had to deal with some scrambling
Great view of Puget Sound low lands from this southern of the two contenders
A glimpse of views towards Mt. Baker and Twin Sisters
A view looking down into Lake Whatcom
Matt sitting on the summit camp chair on the northern contender
Me and Twig on the summit of Anderson Mountain
Our group shot on the summit of Anderson Mountain

Since the summit was entirely forested there’s no point in lingering. We followed some pre-existing foot prints to descend directly south-east from the northern contender to close a short loop. Once back to the uppermost old road we picked up our own tracks and followed them closely to bushwhack back to our bikes. The downhill riding on the slurpee snow was still a challenging fair but thankfully that terrible stretch didn’t last long. We went too fast lower down and missed one trail connector. As a result we had to ride a few extra kilometers to close in a much-bigger loop in the “mid zone”. Further down we paid more attention to find the trails and the downhill riding was actually not as difficult as I thought. We used one more trail to short-cut the last switchback and that one was rather steep and technical. The last section had some near-vertical jumps that Matt managed to ride but I had no chance.

Back down to that old spur road but we would soon leave it
Me plunging down the fresh snow covered open forest
The start of the ride on the snow. It looks easier than it actually was…
Me riding down on on slushy snow trying my best not to fall…
Matt demonstrating how to ride on this soft snow…
Matt leading us onto a bigger loop here, missing our trail connector
The lower mountain biking trails felt more proper
Time for some proper mountain biking.
Me riding onto the final steep short-cut trail
Matt made the final near-vertical jump that I struggled even on foot…

Our round trip time was under 4 hours which was probably faster than most other parties on this peak. The distance is about 18 km so this peak might not be as short as a “dumpster-dive” suggests. Not wasting any time I turned on the engine and drove back north towards the border. I used the Pacific Crossing this time and the Nexus lane had less than 10 minutes of delay only. I made back home right in time for lunch and earned myself almost 3 hours of napping before the afternoon/evening work. That was awesome as the work was rather enjoyable than miserable.