Summit Chief Mountain

A gentle but lengthy trail leads to the challenging 7,464 foot peak, Summit Chief Mountain, deep in the Alpine Lakes wilderness.

Driving Directions

Exit I-90 at the Roslyn/Salmon La Sac exit. Just before to Salmon La Sac, turn left on Forest Road 46. Continue to Owhi Campground on Cooper Lake and the Pete Lake Trailhead (2,790 ft).


Hike the Pete Lake Trail (Trail No. 1323) which follows the Cooper River. Reach a fork at 3,120 ft in about 5 mi. Turn right at the fork, travel another 0.6 mi, then turn right again onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at 3,220 ft. Travel 4.5 mi eventually ascending many switchbacks to approximately 5,500 ft. The "Vista Lakes" tarns at 5,500 ft are to the east of this route and have good bivy sites.  Summit Chief Mountain is about 2 mi from these lakes.


Leave the PCT and travel north up to the ridge.  Camping well above Summit Chief Lake near Point 5965 or closer to Summit Chief Pass is an alternative to the tarns just off of the PCT. Descend towards Summit Chief Pass and follow ridge northwest, staying below cliffs and gendarmes, into the upper basin southeast of Summit Chief’s main summit. Look for a small notch in the skyline ridge to the west. To get to this notch, head northwest toward a minor rock ridge that leads to the notch. This ridge runs WSW to ENE across base of summit. Ascend snow in gap on the right (lower) end of this minor ridge (there is a potentially of trip-ending moat here). Walk along top of ridge to notch at west end. On the other side of the notch is a steep gully that is probably icy in the morning (you may want crampons for this part). Cross snow gully and ascend a loose-rock gully. The exit gully the the right just below the summit.


  • The crux of the trip is a possible moat where the mountain rises in earnest (7,000 ft). The moat may be impassable after mid-July, perhaps earlier in a low-snowfall year.
  • There is loose rock near the summit.
  • There might be accessible Class 3 rock in middle of basin if moat prevents easier access.
  • Crampons may be needed for crossing snow gully.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous 5, Technical 5
  • Length: 25.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,000 ft
  • 7,464 ft
  • USGS Big Snow Mtn
  • USGS Polallie Ridge
  • USGS Mt Daniel
  • USGS Chikamin Peak
  • Trails Illustrated Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Alpine Lakes Wilderness (ALPS)
  • Green Trails Kachess Lake No. 208
  • Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207
  • Green Trails Stevens Pass No. 176
  • Green Trails Skykomish No. 175
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