Hannegan Pass


Backpack - Copper Ridge & Whatcom Pass Loop

This 5-day, 42-mile bucket list backpack in the North Cascades National Park is quintessential Pacific Northwest. It features the spectacular Copper Ridge with panoramic views of the Picket Range and dozens more peaks from a lookout tower, followed by a descent to the Chilliwack River and miles of ancient trees, then up to Whatcom Pass with views of Whatcom Peak and Challenger Glacier before heading back to Hannegan Trail head.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 42.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 11,670 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 5,560 ft
  • Pace: 2.0

Meet at the Hannegan Pass Trailhead at 9:30 AM.  The leader will send an email with information on arranging carpools and gear sharing 2 weeks prior to the trip. The leader is picking up permits on Aug. 22 and then day hiking and car camping at Silver Fir campground at Mt. Baker. Participants who are interested can optionally join this activity too.

Rated 5 stars by Craig Romano in Backpacking Washington (Mountaineers Press), and one of the Top 50 hikes in the “Wow Guides of the North Cascades” by Kathy & Craig Copeland (Wilderness Press), this very strenuous hike has more than 11,000’ total feet of ascent and 10,000’ of descent over five days of glorious hiking.   

The itinerary:  I have reserved permits for the first three nights. The last night’s camp is dependent on getting a walk-up permit so the last two days of this hike may change a little but the total distance and elevation gains and losses will be the same. Please note this backpack is not technically a loop and varies a little from the "routes and places" description.

Day 1: Hike 8 miles from Hannegan Pass trail head and gain 3600’ feet to Silesia Camp, which has great views from the campsite. Once in camp, we’ll need to hike 0.6 mile round trip to Egg Lake to get water.

Day 2: Hike 1.8 miles to Copper Mountain Lookout for an extended break to take in the views. Then, we’ll retrace our steps to the junction with the Chilliwack trail, where we’ll turn left. We’ll descend over the next three miles to US Cabin Camp. Along the way we’ll ride hand-operated cable car across the Chilliwack River.  Total mileage is 9.2 cumulative elevation gain of 1,750’ and a loss of 3,380’.

Day 3: We’ll hike through old growth trees, turning right on Brush Creek trail and ascend to Whatcom Pass camp. Total distance is 6.3 miles with 3,000’ of elevation gain.  From camp, we’ll marvel at the views of Challenger Glacier, and likely do some additional wandering.

Day 4: We begin the hike back down from Whatcom Pass, retracing our steps and camp at Copper Creek Camp.  Total mileage: 8.8 miles. Elevation gain of 1100’ and loss of 3200’.

Day 5: Hike up and over Hannegan Pass to Hannegan the trail head for a total of 7 miles with 2300’ of gain and loss. There is an optional side trip to Hannegan Peak for one last elevated look at the mountains, which adds 2 miles and 1100’ of gain and loss. 

Leader permission is required.  This trip is long and very challenging.  If I don’t get my desired permit on the 4th night, we might have to hike up to 11 miles on the 4th day. Participants will need to be fit, experienced, and flexible as I won’t know the final itinerary until the day before the hike when I get my permits.

When you request permission, summarize your recent history (within the past year) of doing multi-day trips and 3000' gains per day with a full overnight pack. Please let me know of your planned trips for 2022 prior to this one that demonstrate your conditioning for this trip. Confirm you are okay with a moderate ford of the Chilliwack River if necessary, and operating the hand pulled cable car across the Chilliwack River. Tell me how heavy your backpack would be fully packed for a 5-day trip.

Please don't request permission before registration opens. I may be out of cell phone range on a backpack. I will respond to all emails by July 25.


Hannegan Pass

  • Green Trails Mt Shuksan No. 14

    Green Trails Mt Challenger No. 15

    Green Trails Mount Baker Wilderness Climbing No. 13SX

    Green Trails North Cascades Ross Lake No. 16SX

    Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or UR sack.  We will not hang food sacks.
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel. Plan to carry out your TP
  • Plan on low temperatures at night in the upper 30s. We'll check weather forecast closer to the trip.
Trip Reports