Crater Mountain by Jack Mountain via Jackita Ridge Trail / 火山口山

  • Reading time:8 mins read

Crater Mountain by Jack Mountain overlooks North Cascades Highway. It’s also the third tallest peak in South Hozomeen Range after Castle Peak. Plus, Jackita Ridge Trail via Canyon Creek gives the most direct way to reach the mountain.

Crater Mountain up ahead
Crater Mountain up ahead

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Crater Mountain at a Glance

Access: Canyon Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 15 miles
Elevation Range: 1880′-8128′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface

I had planned to visit Gilbert Peak this weekend, but the road closure had us resort to Freezeout Ridge. After coming off the mountains, I made a last-minute plan to Crater Mountain and perhaps climbed it in one long day.

So we went back to Winthrop for food. Afterward, we drove two hours to Pasayten Wilderness’ west end and slept in the car. Then the following day, we pulled into Canyon Creek Trailhead with over a dozen cars there.

Good morning Pasayten
Good morning Pasayten

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Jackita Ridge Trail

Jackita Ridge Trail (#738) was as steep as I remembered it from two years ago. We crossed two bridges over Granite Creek and Canyon Creek. Then after two long switchbacks, the trail instantly shot up the south slopes.

The elevation later flattened at 5000′, where we made a left onto Crater Lake Trail at the fork. We spent the next mile through the at-times brushy trail. Soon, we were up in front of Crater Lake without much water after a dry summer.

Crater Mountain above Crater Lake
Crater Mountain above Crater Lake

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Going up to Crater Mountain

We hiked west on the trail. Then we went up to the southeast ridge after roaming through the wilderness boundary. It was steep for another 400′. But eventually, the elevation became moderate at 6800′.

Afterward, the trail changed direction and went north. But at this point, only the false peak was visible from below. The actual summit sat right behind it. So we continued on the path until we went around to the west of the ridgeline.

Granite Creek Valley
Granite Creek Valley

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Following the Yellow Markings

The path weaved in and out of several cliff bands. Then at 7600′, it entered a narrow, steep gully. We found lots of choss here. It was easy to go off route and near the cliffs through this section. But glad that there were cairns to guide the way.

Soon, the yellow markings led us through several steep ledges. But the crux for the pup was the one giant step by the big yellow “x.”. Then we made it onto the south ridge past that point. A defined and rocky path soon showed up on the crest.

Wait up
Wait up

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Getting Around the False Summit

The trail allowed us to bypass the false peak from the west. Afterward, we went through a long section of the path on moderate terrain. Then we went through several short switchbacks to be on the summit.

The wildfire smoke had made its way north earlier. Then it quickly spread throughout the valleys below before we even got to the top. The remnants of an old structure were a stark reminder of this former lookout site.

The final stretch
The final stretch

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Crater Mountain Summit Plus Outro

The hazy south view over Highway 20 wasn’t all that great. But in contrast, views to the north were excellent and clear. I also saw some obscure northeastern peaks, including Three Fools Peak and Shull Mountain.

Jack Mountain stole the show on this trip, but the scenery would’ve been grander if it weren’t for the smoke. But the day was still young, so we enjoyed an hour on top before going back to the parking lot.

Jack and Jerry panoramic view
Jack Mountain and Jerry Lake Basin panoramic view

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