The High Divide Trail is popular because of its long ridge ramble through alpine meadows and its sweeping views of the North Cascades. Access to the ridge is possible from three trailheads, Excelsior Pass, Welcome Pass, and the Damfino Lakes Trail. The first two are just off of highway 542, whereas the third requires a long drive on a rough dirt road.
Each approach has its pros and cons but what they all share is an initial climb to the ridge. The trail to Excelsior Pass ascends more gradually, while the trail from Welcome Pass relentlessly gains elevation with its 66 switchbacks. The Damfino Lakes Trail offers the least amount of elevation gain of the three. No matter the trail, hikers will all have the common goal of gaining the ridge where, after some tough miles, they can luxuriate along the gentle ups and downs of the high divide. Views to Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack Valley fill every inch of crisp mountain air.
For those looking to add more uphill to their route, there is a short trail about a quarter mile east of Excelsior Pass that leads to Excelsior Peak. There is a mountain toilet at Excelsior Pass.