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Visit Mount Baker Wilderness

Fall harvest season and mountain vistas

Mountain views at Picture Lake near the end of the Mount Baker Highway. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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For the perfect fall getaway head north of Seattle to Bellingham and the Mount Baker Wilderness. Get your fix of apple orchards, farm fresh produce and crisp mountain air.

Where to Stay. If you want the cabin in the mountain experience, check out Mount Baker Lodging, which has over 80 properties located around the Mount Baker Highway. They have isolated cabins as well as condos and homes in amenity rich communities.

Mount Baker Lodging, daily (call for hours), 7463 Mt. Baker Hwy., Maple Falls, 800.709.7669,

For a more upscale stay with all the amenities to include a nice indoor pool and two great restaurants, consider the Four Points by Sheraton. It is conveniently located to all the area has to offer. The rooms were spotlessly clean and everything in the room looked brand new.

Four Points Sheraton, daily, 24 hours, 714 Lakeway Dr., Bellingham, 360.671.1011,

What To Do. Activities abound in the area and your first stop should be the Bellingham Visitor Center off of I-5 exit 253. Make sure you pick up maps of the area, cell phone service is spotty and navigation can be iffy in the mountains. They can craft a great itinerary for your visit.

Bellingham Visitors Center, daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 904 Potter St., Bellingham, 360.671.3990

Whatcom County is a large agricultural area and you want to take some time to explore. Pick up a Whatcom Food & Farm Finder at the visitors' center. My favorite stop was Bellwood Acres, a family-owned business. You really get the whole experience at this one stop. Everything from an art gallery upstairs highlighting a local artist (exhibits rotate) to a distillery making handcraft spirits. Pumpkin Spice Liqueur anyone? There is a fun store, bistro and a bakery in the main building. Outside there are 31 acres of apple trees, with 780 trees per acre -- that's almost 25,000 apple trees. The Belisle family grows 21 different types of apples with harvest throughout the fall. There are also extensive gardens with pumpkins in the fall. Weekends typically have some type of activity children will love, especially the tractor "train" tour of the Orchard.

Bellwood Acres, daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden, 360.318.7720,

Don't miss Everybody's Store. Jeff Margolis and his wife Amy run the oldest natural and organic food store in the area. It is so much more. For over 40 years, this freestanding general store has offered everything for everybody. You won't believe how much amazing stuff is offered for sale. Clothing, Yak wool products from Nepal, Native American art, local beer and wine, upscale chocolate and over 60 types of gourmet cheese. This is a perfect stop to load up with picnic supplies. They make great sandwiches.

Everybody's Store, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 5485 Potter Rd., Deming, 360.592.2297,

The drive up Mount Baker Highway is well worth the journey. Scenic throughout and passing small mountain towns each with its own quaint general store and local restaurants. Stop in Glacier at the National Forest Service Center to pick up a parking pass and see a ranger for information.

Insider Tip: Your military national park pass works for the parking fee. Ask for a mirror hang to display your card. Allow two hours for driving and at least three hours to explore. Not to miss -- Picture Lake. On a sunny day you can see the mountains in the lake. Stop into the Heather Meadows Visitor Center. It is surrounded by alpine meadows, evidence of volcanic activity and has some picturesque hiking trails around a small lake. Next, make the switchback heavy -- drive up to Artist Point. It is not for the faint of heart, but once you arrive you will be blown away by the 360-degree view of Mount Baker on one side and Mount Shuksan on the other.

There is not enough space to describe all there is to see and do. Consider the Mount Baker Wilderness area for your next destination getaway. It is just a short three-hour drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

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