22.7 mi rt
gain: ~7000 ft
max: 6260 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: Copper
I have often been to Hannegan Pass and Hannegan Peak. I have been known to go a little ways up Ruth. But never before have I gone past Hannegan Pass. I know you can do a beautiful 30 mi some odd loop or hike through towards Highway 20 but I always stop at the pass never going beyond. Why you ask? Miranda. About a half mile past the pass the trail enters North Cascades National Park…no dogs allowed. Also note that since you are in National Park, overnight permits/site assignments are needed and can be picked up from the ranger station in Glacier, first come first served.
With Miranda getting older she can no longer do distance nor elevation so I have been venturing out to places I have not gone before. The trail to Copper Ridge and Copper Ridge Lookout starts at the parking area and shares the trail with Hannegan Pass. But as I mentioned before, you keep going past the pass and in a short half mile you enter the National Park.
Once at Hannegan Pass the trail continues on loosing a bit of elevation as it drops down into a valley. There is a campground here about 5.3 miles from parking. The trail also splits here, the lookout is to the left.
For the next 1.5 miles, the trail sidehills then switchbacks through a major forest. The gain here is pretty straight forward and gentle. At about 1.5 mi, you break out onto a ridge and from here on the trail stays above the trees and the views are outrageous!
Just shy of 9 miles from the car is the second camping area. This is where I spent the night.
The closest water is Egg Lake. To get that water means dropping quite a bit in elevation in a very short distance. There are also a couple of camp sites at the lake (again, permit required).
After getting water and hiking back up, up, up, I cooked dinner and drank bourbon while I watched the sunset. Now, full disclosure…this was not my intended nor permitted campsite. I was suppose to go beyond the lookout and drop down to the Copper Lake camp area past the lookout. My original intent was to do the 30 mile loop but after talking to a few others, I decided I really wanted to stay high where the views were on this absolutely perfect day and not drop down into the valley. So I waited until dark and set up in an empty established campsite and instead of doing the loop I did an out and back. I am a bad backpacker.
The other group that stayed at the camp area decided to head to the lookout in the late afternoon and hike back in the dark. I could see them coming back by headlight, it was interesting to watch.
The next day was stunning as well. I woke and watched the sunrise while drinking coffee. It had been cold during the night and once the sun rose it felt good to feel it’s heat. After breaking camp and packing up my gear I hiked a little ways away and stashed most of my gear in some trees, no need to carry it to the lookout.
I had heard that the final approach to the lookout was steep and hard but really it wasn’t. It was just a hike up a hill.
The lookout sits at the peak of Copper Ridge and proudly boasts two toilets…the old one and a spiffy high tech new one. Truly a loo with a view.
I had the lookout area to myself and spent a good hour up there just soaking it all in. Finally, since I intended to head back to the truck that day, I headed down, gathered my gear and hiked out the same way I came in.
I can not speak highly enough about this hike. Yes, I say that about many hikes but this one was amazing. I had heard that it was possible to come over this way from Hannegan Peak without dropping into the valley and had mentioned this to two hikers I had spoken to the day before. They decided to try it so they spent the night up on the peak then headed over the next day intersecting the trail shortly before the forested switchbacks up out of the valley. I will have to try this approach next time.