Independence Peak + Bluegrass Butte via Independence Lake / 獨立峯

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Independence Peak and Bluegrass Butte are within arm’s reach of Independence Lake. Meanwhile, they tower above the secluded North Lake by Anthracite Peak and Beaver Peak. Mountain Loop Highway gives the quickest way to these seldom-climbed high points.

Independence Peak from the pass
Independence Peak from the pass

See more trip photos here.

Independence Peak and Bluegrass Butte at a Glance

Access: Independence Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3600′-5400′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

The Preface

The yellow pup and I visited Mac Peak last weekend. Then today, we checked out Independence Peak and Bluegrass Butte by Mountain Loop Highway. It’s been a while since we were here.

I have long ignored the area because of other climbing commitments. But it felt good to stop by my favorite place in North Cascades after a hiatus. From the highway turnoff, it’s a five-mile drive to the trailhead.

See more trip photos here.

Independence Lake

With no upcoming backpacking trips, it was a perfect time to tackle the back burners. The last time we came, we hiked up to Independence and North Lakes on a rainy day. At times, I find these smaller peaks more challenging.

We walked past a few tents by Independence Lake. Soon, we were up on the pass at 4960′, and I could see our day’s primary goal. Visibility was nonexistent the first time, so I didn’t see much up here.

Independence Lake
Independence Lake

See more trip photos here.

Independence Peak West Ridge

Below the pass were several ponds, which some hikers had mistaken the biggest one for North Lake. They were our last water source, but I forgot to pack more. Then from the saddle, we moved south to Independence Peak.

Shortly, a defined path led us to the west ridge, where the actual climbing began. Then we went to peak’s south side and traversed east over the typical class 3 terrain. Meanwhile, the cliffs were directly overhead.

The south side of Independence Peak
The south side of Independence Peak

See more trip photos here.

Independence Peak Summit

The goal was to reach the northeast ridge at 5000′ to the flat area between 5000′ and 5200′. But we didn’t go far enough before going up a steep gully. It was after we exited the chute that we found ourselves up in the flat area.

Soon, we moved southwest toward the summit over lots of boulders and tall steps. But the target shooting noises from Coal Lake kept breaking the silence. It was a beautiful day to be up here nonetheless.

Boulder River Wilderness lineup
Boulder River Wilderness lineup

See more trip photos here.

Onward to Bluegrass Butte

We went down the west end to see the entire North Lake, with water bluer than I remembered. Forty-five minutes of rest, and it was time to leave. We needed to return to the pass and continue to Bluegrass Butte.

From the pass, we walked down toward North Lake and soon left the path at 4800′. We stayed on the crest mostly but at times avoided cliffs from either side. Soon, at the 4550′ saddle above North Lake, we went onto the southwest ridge.

Next stop, Bluegrass Butte
Next stop, Bluegrass Butte

See more trip photos here.

Bluegrass Butte Summit

We later reached the flat area southeast of the summit at 5000′. Then we went north-northwest on steep terrain to the top. The ridgeline was long and narrow, with steep drop-offs on the west.

Trees up here also had obstructed our view of Independence Peak to the south. The south slopes were also woodsy. Otherwise, we’d see the spectacular view of North Lake.

Summit dogs on Bluegrass Butte
Summit dogs on Bluegrass Butte

See more trip photos here.

Outro

We went back to Independence Lake shortly after dark. Then it was only a quick hike down to the car.

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