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Copper Pass via Copper Creek

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
View map below

Length

9.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2710 ft.
Highest Point: 6720 ft.

Rating

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Road Closed 11/11/21: The North Cascades Highway is closed between the Ross Dam Trailhead at milepost 134 and the Silver Star Gate at milepost 171 for the winter.
 
 

Start with a pleasant walk along Bridge & State creeks and then earn your way to the high country with a climb up to the miles of sloping meadows, flowered in July. Finish with a steep climb through the heather to larch-fringed Copper Pass with its views to the east and west with scrambles to the north and south.

From the Bridge Creek trailhead at elevation 4540 feet, cross Highway 20 and go southbound through the forest on the wide Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). At 0.9 miles and 4370 feet, reach a marked junction.

Turn left onto the Stiletto Spur trail and follow it for 0.2 mile. This narrower trail descends slightly and crosses State Creek on a bridge (partially damaged as of 2018), ford, or in late summer a rock hop. The trail tends to be brushier than the Pacific Crest Trail, with sections of shade-loving flowers in early summer as it heads south on the east slope of the Bridge Creek valley.

At the junction with the Copper Creek trail (elevation 4340 feet) turn left and follow the trail for 3.8 miles as it climbs toward Copper Pass, in three distinct phases.

The first 1.4 miles is a steep climb with many switchbacks through a mature forest, crossing an avalanche chute and then gradually thinning to brush. It breaks out of the brush, just below an unmarked trail junction (elevation 5640 feet) in the sloping meadows well above Copper Creek. Take a minute to savor the views across the valley to the Stiletto Peak ridgeline. Test your eyesight by locating the remnant pole for the fire spotter at the Stiletto Lookout site on the west end of the ridge.

At the unmarked junction, turn right (east) for 2.0 miles of traverse across sloping meadows, wonderfully flowered in July, and views toward Copper Pass and Copper Point.  Be sure to look back down-valley for views into the North Cascades National Park. The meadows are interspersed with short forested sections that provide welcome shade on this south facing slope. At 1.9 miles from the unmarked trail junction is a large forested camp near a spring that provides water into late summer. After the camp, the trail drops below a large rockslide and climbs to cross Copper Creek at elevation 6200 feet.

From the Copper Creek crossing, the narrow trail climbs steeply through heather, flowered in summer, for 0.4 mile to reach Copper Pass. There are multiple trails here, created by hikers bypassing snowfields. To minimize your impact, do your best to stay on the main route.

About halfway up, an unmarked trail to the left (north), goes to a small camp and on to a tarn at the headwaters of Copper Creek. The last section of trail has a couple of short switchbacks between the rock outcroppings before reaching the pass, elevation 6720 feet.

The views to the east, down the North Fork Twisp River, include Lincoln Butte and Crescent Mountain in the Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area. To the west is the Copper Creek Valley and peaks of the North Cascades National Park.

In the fall, the larch in the vicinity of the pass provide beautiful fall color, with even more down the east side of the pass to the south.

The myriad of informal trails to the north and south, both up and down, are indicative of the areas for further exploration. 

 

Copper Pass via Copper Creek

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.5075, -120.7312 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

Pacific Crest Trail (#2000), Stiletto Spur Trail (#), Copper Creek Trail (#526)

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District

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Getting There

From Newhalem, go east on State Route 20 for 37.4 miles (1.4 miles east of Rainy Pass) to the Bridge Creek Trailhead (on north side of road).

Alternatively, from Winthrop go west on State Route 20 for 34.0 miles (3.7 miles west of Washington Pass) to the Bridge Creek Trailhead (on north side of road).

Trailhead amenities include parking for at least 20 vehicles, trail information sign, picnic table, and vault toilet.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Road Closed 11/11/21: The North Cascades Highway is closed between the Ross Dam Trailhead at milepost 134 and the Silver Star Gate at milepost 171 for the winter.
 

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Copper Pass via Copper Creek

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