North Cascades National Park: Copper Ridge to Big Beaver Trail

Come for the sheer, glaciated peaks, but be mesmerized by rain-fed waterfalls that pour down on all sides along this weeklong trip in North Cascades National Park.
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Come for the sheer, glaciated peaks, but be mesmerized by rain-fed waterfalls that pour down on all sides along this weeklong trip in North Cascades National Park.

ROUTE: Connect Hannegan Pass, Copper Ridge, Chilliwack, Brush Creek, Little Beaver, and Big Beaver Trails. Spend the night at Egg Lake, Indian Creek, Whatcom, and Luna Camps.
WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS: If you see any of the following animals, please describe your observations to a park ranger: bats, black bears, bobcats, cougars, coyote, ducks, elk, fishers, fox, grizzly bears, harlequin ducks, loons, lynx, marbled murrelets, moose, mountain goats, owls, peregrine falcons, wolverines, wolves.
Please note the location, time and length of the observation, distance from the animal, and a description of the animal (activity or behavior). If you’re a safe distance from the animal (100 yards), please take a photo and send it to a park ranger.
SHUTTLE: Ross Dam to Hannegan Campground. Mountain Transporter, $425 (up to four people), (509) 996-8294; methownet.com/mountaintransporter.html
WATER TAXI: Go from Big Beaver to Ross Dam with Ross Lake Resort, $50 (up to six people), (206) 386-4437; rosslakeresort.com
USGS TOPO QUADS: Mt. Sefrit, Mt. Shuksan, Copper Mountain, Mt. Blum, Mt. Challenger, Mt. Prophet, Pumpkin Mountain
PERMIT: Overnight camping in North Cascades National Park requires a free backcountry permit. Get more trip planning details at nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm.
MORE INFO: North Cascades National Park, (360) 569-2211; nps.gov/noca.

-Mapped by Kim Phillips and Matt Vellone

TO TRAILHEAD: Western trailhead/start: From Marblemount, go 39 miles west on WA 20. Turn right on WA 9 N. In 22 miles, turn right on WA 542 E. In 32 miles, bear left on NFD 32. Go 5.3 miles to Hannegan Campground trailhead.
Eastern trailhead/end: From Marblemount, drive east on WA 20. In .9 mile, turn left on WA 20 and go 28 miles to Ross Dam parking pull-out.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 90.6

Waypoints

NCS001

Location: 48.910208, -121.59169

The route begins at the eastern edge of Hannegan Campground. Follow the trail east, paralleling Ruth Creek.

NCS002

Location: 48.90906, -121.585376

Pass the Wilderness Boundary.

NCS003

Location: 48.903153, -121.575417

Mt. Sefrit, the highpoint of the Nooksack Ridge at 7,191 feet, rises directly to the south.

NCS004

Location: 48.886302, -121.544371

A waterfall cascades down the slopes on the left.

NCS005

Location: 48.881447, -121.538533

Waterfall

NCS006

Location: 48.881376, -121.53828

Hike past the turn-off for Hannegan Camps on the right.

NCS007

Location: 48.88291, -121.534416

Hannegan Pass: Keep left and follow the sign to Boundary Camp. Ahead, the route descends switchbacks into the Chilliwack River Valley.

NCS008

Location: 48.887825, -121.524014

Veer left at the junction to Copper Ridge. The ridgeline climb begins here.

NCS009

Location: 48.896907, -121.504835

This overlook offers big views across the Chilliwack River Valley.

NCS010

Location: 48.89779, -121.503553

Keep an eye out for bears munching on berries in the bushes. If you think you see a grizzly bear, tell a park ranger about your observations.

NCS011

Location: 48.897799, -121.499473

Views extend north into Silesia Creek drainage.

NCS012

Location: 48.895121, -121.483126

This snowfield may linger into the summer months.

NCS013

Location: 48.895809, -121.4814

Turn left to descend to Egg Lake on a narrow, rocky trail.

NCS014

Location: 48.899499, -121.484249

Egg Lake: This small, turquoise lake is cupped by a 5,694-foot ridge.

NCS015

Location: 48.90005, -121.484478

This campsite is perched above the lake and offers views to the north. (The Canadian border is only 7 miles away.)

NCS016

Location: 48.903139, -121.464993

You'll spot views of the Chilliwack River below.

NCS017

Location: 48.905092, -121.463623

This rocky overlook showcases more big views across the Chilliwack River Valley.

NCS018

Location: 48.908487, -121.462591

The Copper Ridge lookout tower marks the highpoint of the ridge. Next, stay to the right of the snowfield, heading northeast. Don't hike toward the cairn.

NCS019

Location: 48.915364, -121.450792

First views of Copper Lake (Kool-Aid blue) suddenly appear to the north. Descend a slew of switchbacks to reach its shores.

NCS020

Location: 48.917254, -121.448167

Junction: Keep right to continue on the trail. Bear left to visit the lake.

NCS021

Location: 48.923287, -121.44728

Waterfall

NCS022

Location: 48.927198, -121.444473

Hike through a field of gargantuan, car-sized boulders.

NCS023

Location: 48.927992, -121.442523

Look back over your shoulder to see distant views of the Copper Ridge lookout to the southwest.

NCS024

Location: 48.939633, -121.42408

When you round this ridge, views of the mountains to the north pop into view (look for finger-shaped Chilliwack Lake, which lies just north of the border in British Columbia). The trail crosses a boulder field ahead.

NCS025

Location: 48.945208, -121.42777

Prepare for a long (3.5 miles) and steep (your knees will ache) descent into the Chilliwack River Valley.

NCS026

Location: 48.949718, -121.398658

Creek crossing. The trail is overgrown and hard to follow at this point. Follow the rocky creekbed, heading south, to reconnect with the trail.

NCS027

Location: 48.946508, -121.400031

Ford the creek. Pick up the trail directly across the stream.

NCS028

Location: 48.946112, -121.398049

Second ford: It's tricky to find the trail on the other side of the crossing. If you don't spot it, bushwhack up the bank and head east until you intersect the trail.

NCS029

Location: 48.944302, -121.393382

Turn right at T-junction, heading south.

NCS030

Location: 48.934793, -121.39404

Turn left into Indian Creek Campsite.

NCS031

Location: 48.935147, -121.393308

Tentsites are protected by thick, old-growth canopy.

NCS032

Location: 48.934062, -121.39255

Cross a swinging suspension bridge over Indian Creek.

NCS033

Location: 48.921144, -121.413975

Forest opens into a corridor of willows and maple bushes.

NCS034

Location: 48.920467, -121.41435

Creek crossing

NCS035

Location: 48.919196, -121.414363

Re-enter the forest.

NCS036

Location: 48.91424, -121.419332

Cascading creek

NCS037

Location: 48.906578, -121.421678

Turn left.

NCS038

Location: 48.888512, -121.413792

Look south for views of glaciers on Easy Ridge.

NCS039

Location: 48.884975, -121.41374

Route follows the river bed for a brief stretch.

NCS040

Location: 48.880695, -121.411967

Pass campsite on right.

NCS041

Location: 48.874611, -121.394224

Views extend across Brush Creek to Easy Ridge. Waterfalls cascade down the steep slopes.

NCS042

Location: 48.872933, -121.382972

Cross cascading Tapto Creek.

NCS043

Location: 48.873867, -121.376463

Cross Brush Creek.

NCS044

Location: 48.874359, -121.372397

Waterfall crossing

NCS045

Location: 48.875079, -121.369237

Turn left onto spur trail to reach Whatcom Camp.

NCS046

Location: 48.875241, -121.370513

This campsite is tucked into a small stand of trees.

NCS047

Location: 48.875638, -121.363708

Whatcom Pass (5,206 ft.): The ridge that rises to the south from this small pass tops out on 7,574-foot Whatcom Peak. Begin a steep, switchback descent into the Little Beaver Creek Valley.

NCS048

Location: 48.8743, -121.356865

Catch intermittent views of Little Beaver Creek.

NCS049

Location: 48.872728, -121.350807

Creek crossing. Prepare to get your feet wet along this stretch of trail. Caution: After it rains, the crossings can be swollen with run-off.

NCS050

Location: 48.873742, -121.345522

Tackle three back-to-back crossings.

NCS051

Location: 48.873258, -121.340723

Downed trees cover this portion of Little Beaver Creek. Cross this stretch on a network of logs.

NCS052

Location: 48.878514, -121.323497

Creek crossing

NCS053

Location: 48.882597, -121.312387

Pass Campground on the right.

NCS054

Location: 48.886167, -121.306528

Creek crossing

NCS055

Location: 48.889709, -121.301826

Creek crossing

NCS056

Location: 48.88967, -121.301477

Creek crossing

NCS057

Location: 48.889714, -121.301075

Creek crossing

NCS058

Location: 48.893063, -121.269233

In October 2010, Little Beaver Creek had washed out a short stretch of trail starting at this point. The power of the creek is apparent: watch it batter and pummel the downed trees partially submerged in the water. Next: Bear left, uphill, to bypass this stretch.

NCS059

Location: 48.893293, -121.268753

The trail continues here on the other side of the washout.

NCS060

Location: 48.897025, -121.253293

Turn right at 3-way junction, heading south.

NCS061

Location: 48.89617, -121.252565

Cross the bridge over Little Beaver Creek.

NCS062

Location: 48.894772, -121.254082

The trail cuts across the bottom of a boulder field.

NCS063

Location: 48.8913, -121.262837

Waterfall flows across trail.

NCS064

Location: 48.890238, -121.267063

Pass the turnoff to Stillwell Campsite.

NCS065

Location: 48.886152, -121.263101

Bridge crossing

NCS066

Location: 48.885479, -121.259115

Bridge crossing

NCS067

Location: 48.880142, -121.254108

Sno Marker: This marks the otherwise unsigned Beaver Pass.

NCS068

Location: 48.87491, -121.248644

Beaver Campsite

NCS069

Location: 48.874123, -121.248578

Beaver Pass Shelter

NCS070

Location: 48.86431, -121.240487

See a glacier between gaps in trees.

NCS071

Location: 48.862612, -121.237737

Trail cuts through dense maple bushes.

NCS072

Location: 48.84075, -121.206376

Stream crossing

NCS073

Location: 48.835158, -121.20126

Turn right for tentsites in Luna Camp.

NCS074

Location: 48.835078, -121.202627

Tentsites are tucked below towering old-growth trees.

NCS075

Location: 48.804584, -121.143584

39 Mile Campsite

NCS076

Location: 48.804498, -121.143107

Keep left, heading east.

NCS077

Location: 48.804565, -121.142687

Log crossings

NCS078

Location: 48.804717, -121.135308

Pass a pond on the right.

NCS079

Location: 48.804293, -121.132897

The trail is lined with reeds and bamboo stalks. Scan the ground for giant maple leaves.

NCS080

Location: 48.802758, -121.125942

Weave through gargantuan western red cedars. Crane your neck back to try and spot the tree tops.

NCS081

Location: 48.78355, -121.078213

Pass a sandy beach.

NCS082

Location: 48.775862, -121.065995

Follow the boardwalk.

NCS083

Location: 48.775633, -121.065605

Bear left and follow the trail along the shores of Ross Lake toward Big Beaver Camp.

NCS084

Location: 48.77523, -121.059782

Bear left.

NCS085

Location: 48.775402, -121.058548

The route ends at Big Beaver trailhead.

NCS086

Location: 48.775423, -121.058123

Wait on the dock for your 4.1-mile water taxi ride to Ross Dam (reserve ahead of time with Ross Lake Resort).

NCS087

Location: 48.735337, -121.061722

The water taxi will drop you off at the dock just north of Ross Dam. Follow the road, heading southwest, for 0.4 mile.

NCS088

Location: 48.730743, -121.06559

Turn left onto the trail and begin a switchback, 0.7-mile climb to the parking area.

NCS089

Location: 48.727782, -121.062782

Ross Dam parking area: Pick up your shuttle car in this large pull-out.

Views from Copper Ridge

Location: 48.910885, -121.458928

Hannegan Campground Trailhead

Location: 48.910208, -121.59169

Ruth Creek Valley

Location: 48.903765, -121.575441

Nooksack Ridge

Location: 48.897467, -121.567406

Forest along Ruth Creek

Location: 48.890202, -121.549728

Lush Forest

Location: 48.889218, -121.548747

View near Hannegan Pass

Location: 48.882935, -121.537062

Mossy Trees

Location: 48.88305, -121.534767

Chilliwack River Valley

Location: 48.887519, -121.526164

Wildflower on Copper Ridge

Location: 48.897392, -121.506894

Copper Ridge

Location: 48.897284, -121.498561

Egg Lake

Location: 48.900051, -121.484519

View from Copper Ridge

Location: 48.89618, -121.480911

Copper Ridge

Location: 48.903103, -121.465663

Highpoint along Copper Ridge

Location: 48.905126, -121.463568

Copper Ridge Lookout Tower

Location: 48.908487, -121.462591

Copper Ridge Lookout Tower

Location: 48.90898, -121.461757

Copper Ridge

Location: 48.910885, -121.458928

Copper Lake

Location: 48.916186, -121.449047

Views near Copper Lake

Location: 48.918665, -121.447414

Northeast Views from Copper Ridge

Location: 48.935688, -121.430267

Indian Creek Camp

Location: 48.93503, -121.393652

Indian Creek Camp

Location: 48.935101, -121.393581

Old-growth forest along the Chillwack River Valley

Location: 48.914234, -121.419229

Nearing Brush Creek

Location: 48.911135, -121.420214

Forest along Brush Creek

Location: 48.909666, -121.420683

Forest along the Little Beaver Creek Valley

Location: 48.892991, -121.27113

Downed trees in Little Beaver Creek

Location: 48.892963, -121.270463

Little Beaver Trail

Location: 48.893911, -121.264113

Trail Junction

Location: 48.897004, -121.253254

Boulder Field

Location: 48.894839, -121.254039

Sno Marker at Beaver Pass

Location: 48.880154, -121.253854

Beaver Pass Shelter

Location: 48.874111, -121.248077

Big Beaver Creek Valley

Location: 48.804231, -121.133753

Bamboo Garden

Location: 48.804119, -121.132927

Fall Foliage

Location: 48.804253, -121.132881

Giant Maple Leaves

Location: 48.804125, -121.130543

Western Red Cedar

Location: 48.802834, -121.125851

Moss

Location: 48.800529, -121.12019

Creek Crossing

Location: 48.800374, -121.12006

Camouflaged Toad

Location: 48.80029, -121.119872

Junction along Big Beaver Trail

Location: 48.775622, -121.065557

Dock at Ross Lake

Location: 48.775424, -121.058092