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Cooper River

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This riverside trail offers no expansive views and doesn't explore any wildflower meadows or high alpine country. But it does track alongside a beautiful mountain river that sports a healthy population of hungry trout. It also provides ample opportunity to practice your bird-watching, as a number of avian species thrive here, including the river-loving water ouzel and the fish-loving kingfisher. The trip can be done as a one-way hike by shuttling vehicles or by hitching a ride back down the road from Cooper Lake.

The trail follows the pretty Cooper River valley upstream to Cooper Lake. The trail stays on the north side of the creek, and at times the valley narrows enough for you to hear (and possibly see) traffic on the road that runs on the other side of the valley. Ignore that interruption as you explore the dense old-growth forest around you.

The trail splits 0.7 mile from the trailhead. To the right is a path that climbs steeply up Polallie Ridge. Continue to the left instead, staying close to the river. If you're an angler keep an eye out for likely fishing holes. Take your time--the trail is gentle enough for you to adopt a mile-eating pace between fishing sessions.

About 2 miles from the trailhead the valley broadens a bit and the river begins to meander side-to-side across the gentle valley floor. You'll find some small patches of berries here, and occasional clumps of wildflowers along the river banks.

At 3 miles you'll encounter the Cooper Lake Road, which crosses Cooper River just below the lake outlet. Turn around here, or cross the road bridge to access the road leading back down to Salmon la Sac.

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Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to take exit 80 (signed "Roslyn/Salmon la Sac"). Head north on Salmon la Sac Road (State Route 903) about 15 miles, passing through Roslyn and past Cle Elum Lake to Salmon la Sac. At the Y in the road near the Salmon la Sac Campground, take the left branch toward the campground. Cross the Cle Elum River bridge and turn right, away from the campground, and reach the trailhead park-ing area in another 0.5 mile.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 31 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Cooper River — Jul 28, 2013 — Aging_hiker_with_kids
Day hike
Features: Ripe berries
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Wonderful day on this peaceful trail. No bugs, and still a few flowers. Best of all for our party wa...
Wonderful day on this peaceful trail. No bugs, and still a few flowers. Best of all for our party was the fact that some in the party could make this a one way hike. That allowed the oldest and youngest of our party to enjoy the trip (~3 miles) as well as those of us that could hike to Cooper Lake and back. And, there were huckleberries to be found.
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Cooper River — Jun 21, 2013 — Wildflower fan
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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The snow is gone, and we saw a calypso lily!...
The snow is gone, and we saw a calypso lily!
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Cooper River — May 25, 2013 — smacksviolence
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Snow on trail
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Great kids hike with lots of places to stop and investigate flowers and snow....
Great kids hike with lots of places to stop and investigate flowers and snow.
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Cooper River — May 12, 2013 — seattleemily
Day hike
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At the suggestion of the Cle Elum ranger station, I took my mom on this hike for Mothers Day. What a...
At the suggestion of the Cle Elum ranger station, I took my mom on this hike for Mothers Day. What a great early season hike! The Salmon la Sac campgrounds are open yet, so the area was dead quiet. In our 6 miles on the trail we saw maybe 10 people. Trail was dry and snow free.
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Cooper River — Mar 29, 2013 — Diltz
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Clogged drainage | Mudholes | Washouts | Water on trail | Snow on trail | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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Original intent was to hike the Pete Lake Trail, but were unable to access Road 46 by vehicle. Near ...
Original intent was to hike the Pete Lake Trail, but were unable to access Road 46 by vehicle. Near the Cooper River Campground we passed an abandoned vehicle stuck in the snow. We hiked sans snowshoe, but there were definitely some areas were they would have been helpful. The views were unbeatable, and near Cooper River we spotted some cat tracks. We took Road 46 back, which totaled 10.6 miles. Navigational skills a must, as there are no trails to follow.
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Cooper River Bob and Barb.jpg
Beginning of Cooper River trail. Photo by Bob & Barb.
Location
Cooper River (#1311)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Cle Elum Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain 400 ft
Highest Point 2800 ft
Features
Rivers
Old growth
Fall foliage
Wildflowers/Meadows
Wildlife
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Kachess Lake No. 208

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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