11.6m 4,000ft gain
Ancestral homelands of the: Nlaka’pamux & Sauk Suiattle
Trappers Peak and X Mountain stand high over Thornton Lakes in the North Cascades National Park and Stephen Mather Wilderness. It is a strenuous hike unless you’re going by North Cascade standards. Its relatively easy trailhead access and well maintained trail guide you to an incredible panoramic view of steep, jagged peaks and deep, lush valleys. This may be the best bang for your buck day hike in the American Alps! It’s also the easiest way to get a look at the extremely rugged Southern Picket Range! To add more excitement to a summit of Trappers Peak you can traverse to X Mountain, Thornton Peak or beyond. The only reason it stayed on my to-do list so long, as with all peaks in the North Cascades, is the park’s rule against dogs.
1st Trip: 7/25/2021
Had plans to go to a Seattle Sounders game Saturday night so naturally I fit in a sunrise hike in my favorite National Park. I drove 5 hours to the Thornton Lakes Trailhead Friday night and slept a few hours in the back of truck before waking up at 2:45am and getting moving by 3am.
The first 4 miles and 2,500ft on the Thornton Lakes trail went by quickly. Usually night hiking is mindless but I was getting cloaked in spider webs which kept me engaged. It reminded me of summer hiking in North Georgia. From the ridge top the trail drops down to Thornton Lakes but a boot path continues up the ridge for 7/10ths of a mile and 1,000ft of elevation to Trappers Peak. The Southern Pickets came into view as I approached the summit.
After some light scrambling, I reached the rocky summit at 5:10am with 20 minutes to spare before sunrise!
I spent the next 30 minutes watching the mountains light up around me.
Color started to pop around 5:20am.
At 5:30am Mount Triumph and Thornton Peak were bathed in alpenglow.
As light took over the mountains and I started to freeze I made my way over to X Mountain only a half mile away.
X Mountain, formerly known as Cross-Dike Peak, got its unofficial name from the white quartz veins in the summit rock that form an X.
Light was beaming through the Southern Pickets and into the Terror Basin!
Around 6:15am I traversed back to Trappers Peak.
The mountains were even more glorious in the daylight!
The constant itch for getting into the mountains was sufficiently scratched! Nothing beats a sunrise in the North Cascades! At 7am I started my descent and was bid farewell by a covey of ptarmigan. With their support I made it down in no time.
As I drove away from the trailhead, down the gravel Thornton Lakes Road, I spotted a black bear! A minute later I passed someone walking up the road. They were in for some possible excitement.
I was very happy with the efficiency of this trip. I had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Seattle and still made it to lunch with friends at 1pm! I was a little tired but the sounders game was a blast. Weekend well spent!