Copper Ridge and Whatcom Pass, North Cascades National Park



Whatcom Peak and Easy Ridge

The northern half of North Cascades National Park is one of the most scenic places in the lower 48. The names of the peaks alone are enough to attract anyone who loves mountains; Mount Terror, Phantom Peak, Mount Fury.

Picket Range, North Cascades National Park

After a short map study I decided on a route over Hannegan Pass, up along Copper Ridge, down to and across the Chilliwack River, up to Whatcom Pass, and then out to Ross Lake at Big Beaver and Ross Dam.

Getting dropped off at the trail head deep in the wilderness has a certain appeal. The only way out is the way through!


Ruth Mountain from Hannegan Peak

The first days hike took us to Hannegan Pass. The entire route was very scenic, with great views of Nooksack Ridge along the way. At the pass we made a detour to scramble up Hannegan Peak and camped that first night at Boundary Camp.

Next days hike was short and easy, we headed up the Copper Ridge Trail to one of the best camp sites I have ever seen: Silesia Camp. The views of Mt Shucksan, Mt Baker, Easy Ridge, Whatcom Peak, Mt Challenger, the Pickets and more is truly jaw dropping.

View from Copper Ridge

Next we headed up along the ridge to the Copper Ridge Fire Lookout for Lunch…not a bad place to be stationed in the summer…

Copper Ridge Lookout


Mount Shucksan Mt Baker from Copper Ridge

And then on down to Copper Lake.

Copper Lake

Our route now took us on steep descent to a ford of the Chilliwack River. It was salmon season!

Chilliwack Salmon


More Chilliwack Salmon

We went up the Chilliwack Trail to the junction with Brush Creek and ascended to Whatcom Pass, where we camped the night.

Mt Challenger

The area surrounding Whatcom Pass is unsurpassed. Mount Challenger dominates the area with its huge glacier.

Heading down the pass towards Ross Lake the upper valley is surrounded with water falls.

Whatcom Pass Waterfalls

We crossed the Little Beaver near Stillwell Camp and headed up to Beaver Pass and one of the most miserable nights camping ever. I have never, before or since seen or heard as many flies as we encountered that night…their droning was so loud that it was hard to even think…we wound up in the tent quickly. The incessant droning continued until 4am and then started again promptly at 5…

The next day was a long hike down the Big Beaver Trail to a camp alongside Ross Lake, then the last day was a short 7 mile jaunt to Ross Dam and back up to Highway 20 and hitchhike back home…

This route is on my list for this year, cant wait to get back. Plan to spend an extra day or two scrambling and rambling around near Whatcom Pass.

Approaching Copper Ridge Lookout

3 thoughts on “Copper Ridge and Whatcom Pass, North Cascades National Park

  1. Thanks for sharing-these are wonderful. Would love to go back to this area for sure. Once spent a miserable night up near Nada Lake in similar circumstances. Glad to see the beauty outweighed the flies 🙂

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