10.4 mi rt
gain: 3315 ft
max: 5947 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: Trapper
I had been wanting to go up Trapper Peak for awhile now. Trapper Peak shares a trail approach with Thorton Lakes. The trailhead (N48 39.181 W121 19.522) for this trail is reached by driving east on Highway 20 and just a short distance before Newhalem, taking a left off the highway onto Thorton Lakes Rd. The road is doable in a car, there were several at the parking when I got down, but I highly recommend taking it slow and easy on the drive in and out.
The trail starts out on an old road bed that has become more trail than road. There is a nice log bridge with a guard rail for crossing the creek, I imagine it is necessary in times of normal/high waters. About a mile and a quarter in, the trail starts up through an older forest.
This made for quite nice walking since it was HOT when not in the woods. I enjoyed the very large trees and the coolness they provided. There where little creeklets running and the morning dew was still on the plants.
At about three miles, the trail enters the National Park (North Cascades), this is why I had not done this hike yet…I couldn’t take Miranda. Once past the Park post, the trail continued on up through the woods until it started to break out and the views started to show themselves.
At a bit over 4 miles, the trail comes to a junction: go left to Thorton Lakes losing much earned elevation or go right to gain even more on the way to Trapper. I went right of course.
Here is where the trail got serious. A few feet beyond the post is the first choice, left or right side of the big rock. Go left pushing through some small trees and up a steep hill. Soon you will get the first view of where you are going.
It is the bare one off in the distance in that shot. Keep going up, oh, make noice! there was a bear there. In a short while you will come to a bit of a scramble…really not too bad, probably a high class two. There is really no exposure but you definitely don’t want to fall so be a tetrapod here. Once you climb out of the chute, the trail opens up again and stays a proper trail through an absolutely drop-dead beautiful ridge walk. At this point you could see the lakes and oh so much more. I had heard that Thorton Lakes was beautiful but I had no idea. This chain of three lakes, each one higher than the other, is amazing.
I need to go back and explore those.
But onto the peak. The trail is pretty straight forward, a few places that you want to watch your footing. The part that made my heart race was a short distance before the final approach. I came to a slick, angled rock I had to traverse then a short knife edge that I had to straddle to reach the trail on the other side. This is the only spot that gave me pause but I worked through the nerves and carried on.
The final approach is just working your way up the side of a hill, using hands is necessary in a few spots due to the rocks and the steepness.
Once on top…breathless. There is a 360 view that will knock your socks off.
On the way down I ran into a mama ptarmigan with 4 chicks. She was fearless leading them through the grass about 30 feet away from me. She jumped up on a tree branch on a rock and just sat almost daring me to move.