Big Craggy Peak

For your next adventure, I dare you to open a guide book and find a place that you’ve never seen pictures of or heard about before. In(stagram)spiration has led me to some of the most beautiful spots in Washington, but it rarely leads to solitude.

Last weekend, I was seeking some peak bagging and some sun, a rare combination with a storm system rolling in. The Methow Valley held a glimmer of hope. It’s a tiny rural community about a 4 hour haul northeast from Seattle that lives in the shadows of some of the Cascade’s highpoints. My scramble book had a doable day trip in the nearby Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. I hadn’t heard or seen much of the area. It’s not like Rainier or the Alpine Lakes Wilderness that dominate my newsfeed, but it would have to do.

And then this happened:

capture

All the things that make people giddy about hiking all happened at once: big peaks across the valley on the Isabella range, turquoise blue water in the Copper Glance Lake, and golden larches out in their mac & trees glory. Even better: we didn’t see another soul for the entire day.

It’s a misconception that remote places involve rough Forest Service roads and overgrown trails. To find this secluded spot, travel from Winthrop to the Copper Glance Trailhead via W Chewuch Rd, Forest Road 51, and Forest Road 5130.

The trail starts on an old Jeep road and quickly reaches a creek crossing. There are remnants of an old log bridge, but these can get slick, so it’s best to wait until later in the season, after most of the snow melt is running through. The Jeep road ends at a century old Copper Glance Mine. Take a peak, but know that the mine shaft hasn’t been assessed since the early 1910’s, so it’s not a good idea to enter. After another half mile, reach a large open meadow. (If you hit another creek crossing, you’ve gone too far). There isn’t a formal trail through the meadow, so be sure that your group spreads out to minimize the impact on the vegetation. The meadow tops out on a ridge line, which you follow up through the trees. Once they thin into a talus field, the summit is in view. It’s mostly a (chossy, annoying) walk-up with a few class 2 moves thrown in.

Take in the views of Sherman, Copper Glance Lake, and the Isabella Ridge before descending the climber’s route, or combine with West Craggy Peak by following the ridge line. Copper Glance Lake has room for 3-4 tents and is accessible from the main trail, roughly a mile from the meadow turn off.

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