Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Hiking Hiking Guide Copper Ridge Loop

Copper Ridge Loop

North Cascades > Mount Baker Area
48.9102, -121.5917 Map & Directions
34.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
8,600 feet
Highest Point
6,260 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker from Copper Ridge. Photo by Ken Giesbers. Full-size image
  • Ridges/passes
  • Wildlife
  • Established campsites
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Summits
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
Saved to My Backpack

Experience the variety offered by the North Cascades: high mountain ridges with spectacular views, a remote river valley, and even a self-propelled cable car river crossing. Popular side trips include Hannegan Peak and Whatcom Pass. Continue reading

4.43 out of 5

(14 votes) Log in to rate

Hiking Copper Ridge Loop

Experience the variety offered by the North Cascades: high mountain ridges with spectacular views, a remote river valley, and even a self-propelled cable car river crossing. Popular side trips include Hannegan Peak and Whatcom Pass.

Plan your trip with enough time to be flexible; camps within the park require backcountry camping reservations, which must be obtained in person at a National Park office no more than 24 hours in advance. You may have to change your plans depending on which camps are available. This guide lists the mileages at junctions to assist in last minute planning.

Start out from the popular Hannegan Pass trailhead, climbing gently for 3.7 miles to a junction for Hannegan Camp. This camp is outside of the park, and so does not require reservations. Water is available from a creek just outside of camp, a short distance from the trail.

At 4.2 miles is Hannegan Pass and a junction to a side trail up Hannegan Peak. For stunning views into the North Cascades National Park, ascend the peak, gaining 1100 feet over 1.1 miles.

From the pass, the trail drops through forest and across talus to the boundary of the National Park at a junction for Boundary Camp, 5.1 miles from the trailhead. Campsites here are dusty and water is available only via a short but steep climber’s trail.

Go left at the junction, on a narrowing and steepening trail up to Copper Ridge. Here and on the remainder of the loop, the trail may be brushy and overgrown, often with blueberry bushes.

At 8.1 miles is Silesia camp with no water source; at 8.2 miles is the junction to Egg Lake, where both water and camps can be found 0.3 mile below.

From the Egg Lake junction, climb the ridge above the lake, and on to some of the best views, approaching the Copper Mountain Lookout at 9.9 miles, elevation 6260 feet.

Next is the big drop - from the high point of this loop to the low point. At 11.2 miles is Copper Lake and camps. A half mile beyond is a small waterfall and the last reliable water until 17.4 miles from the trailhead, where the trail crosses a small stream. At 17.9 miles is the low point, elevation 2225. Ford the Chilliwack River, then follow the flagged route 100 yards to the ford of Indian Creek. On the opposite shore, go right to Indian Creek Camp at 19 miles. Immediately thereafter, cross Indian Creek on a suspension bridge and climb 400 feet to the Brush Creek Trail junction at 21.8 miles.

From here, Whatcom Pass is a 10.2 mile round trip hike. Above the pass, Tapto Lakes offer better views and backcountry camping, but access is via a steep and scratchy climber’s trail. If you can snag it, try getting a reservation for Graybeal Camp, 2.1 miles in from the Brush Creek Trail junction. Note that in late summer, Graybeal Camp is dry, so you'll have to get water from Brush Creek where the trail drops close to it a half mile before the camp.

Beyond the Brush Creek junction, 22.6 miles from the trailhead, bypass the horse ford to get to the cable car crossing. At 22.9 miles, pull yourself across the Chilliwack in a small 2-seater cable car. The pull rope is rough and requires some strength; gloves are advised.

After the cable car crossing, climb gently past U.S. Cabin Camp at 23.6 miles, then to Copper Creek Camps at 26.1. Climb steeply back up to the park boundary and Boundary Camp at 28.5 miles to complete the loop portion. Retrace your steps over Hannegan Pass and down the final 5.1 miles to the trailhead.

WTA Pro Tip: Visit Graham’s Restaurant in Glacier for a hearty post-hike meal or maybe a Framboise Lambic.

Hike Description Written by
Ken Giesbers, WTA Correspondent

Copper Ridge Loop

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.9102, -121.5917 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

A $26 backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex (incl. Ross Lake National Rec Area and Lake Chelan National Rec Area). Permits must be picked up in person at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount. See the National Park Service website for more information.

See weather forecast

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From I-5 exit 255, go east 34 miles on SR 542. Just past the town of Glacier, stop at the Public Service Center to obtain overnight permits, then continue another 12.7 miles. Turn left onto Hannegan Pass Road #32. At 1.3 miles, stay left on Ruth Creek Road, and drive the final 4 miles to road’s end. There is parking for 30 vehicles plus additional shoulder parking. Trailhead amenities include a vault toilet, shelter, and bearproof garbage bin.

More Hike Details


North Cascades > Mount Baker Area

Hannegan Trail (#674), Copper Ridge Trail (#692), Chilliwack Trail (#676)

North Cascades National Park and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Backpacking Washington (Douglas Loraine; Wilderness Press)

Don’t Waste Your Time in the North Cascades (Kathy & Craig Copeland; Wilderness Press)

Download a map to plan your hike

Buy the Green Trails Mt. Shuksan No. 14 map

Buy the Green Trails Mt Challenger No. 15 map

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry!

Copper Ridge Loop

81 Trip Reports

Hiked here recently?

Submit a trip report!
Trip Reports