Fall trip backlog: Copper Ridge / Chilliwack River Loop

Mount Ruth (7115′), looking bony.

Back in September, when Washington had more than four hours of light each day and the academic quarter had yet to suck me into its vortex of responsibilities, Kate and I stole away for a two-day lap on the über-classic Copper Ridge / Chilliwack River loop. The 34-mile circuit was my introduction to the grandeur of the North Cascades five years ago, and we were treated to similar conditions: a day of rain, and a day of cool temperatures and astounding clarity.

I’ve yet to knock the sucker out in a single push, and while I’m sure I’ll do it someday, the plethora of appealing overnight sites on the route and general pleasure of briefly living in such grand country urge a more leisurely pace anyway. In fact, I’ll argue there’s no finer short backpacking route for scenery in the lower 48. Feel free to argue that point in the comments.

This photo does not do them justice, but we hit peak vine maple at lower elevations dead on.

Most parties hike the loop clockwise, to avoid a >4K’ climb from the Chilliwack to Copper Ridge, but we opted for the reverse, both to maximize canopy cover on the first, rainy day, and to better soak in views of Shuksan and Baker from the ridge.


Blue raspberry water abounds en route. Earlier in the season, the Chilliwack is thick with blood-red sockeye and a marvel to behold.

Copper Lake.

Mt. Redoubt and friends: exceedingly remote climbing objectives.

Shuksan, Baker, and miles of tundra walking on the eponymous Ridge.



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