Sunday, September 8, 2013

Copper Ridge Loop

This summer I have consistently managed to get into the backcountry for some stellar running adventures. The Copper Ridge Loop in the north cascades is definitely one of the summer highlights, in part due to the sockeye salmon we saw spawning in the Chiliwack River. It's one thing to see this on a nature show, but it was awesome to see it in person. There were so many fish you could practically walk across the river on them (although in reality they quickly swam away when we started fording the river).

Salmon spawning in the Chilliwack River.
To start at the beginning, we met in Mt. Vernon at 5am and arrived at the Hannegan Pass trailhead east of Bellingham and north of Mt. Baker around 7:30am. The route starts with a 4 mile uphill climb to Hannegan Pass and then shortly afterwards the trail divides. We opted to continue uphill on the Copper Ridge trail and then return via the Chilliwack River Trail. The approximate distance of the loop is 34 miles with about 9,000 feet of climbing. The views from the higher elevations on the Copper Ridge were magnificent, although we did not have a clear day and I will definitely need to run this loop again (or even an out back to the lookout) on a clear day. There was good availability for water and I only carried two bottles, although once you get onto Copper Ridge there was a 5-6 mile section without water until we got to Copper Lake. We refilled with water just past the lake where an outlet stream crosses the trail, and then again at the bottom of the long downhill shortly before the junction with the Chilliwack River trail. If one really needed water along Copper Ridge, there were a couple of lakes at campgrounds that were available although you would have to go a mile or so out of the way to get the water.

Elevation Profile

Scotty, myself and Rich at the trail head

In the valley leading up to Hannegan Pass

Looking back at Hannegan Pass

Views from Copper Ridge

The ranger's lookout at the high point on the ridge

Scotty descending

Copper Lake

I don't know what valley this is, but I want to explore it sometime

Looking north into Canada with a glimpse of Chillwack lake on the right

Chilliwack river, upstream of the salmon spawning

View down the valley towards the trailhead

Moon over Hannegan pass

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite days of the year, for sure, Mike! The sockeye were really something special. So glad we could do this. Great writeup, as usual!