McLeod Mountain to Setting Sun Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness / 麥克勞德山

  • Reading time:5 mins read

McLeod Mountain, Setting Sun Mountain, and Sunrise Peak mark the edge of Pasayten Wilderness. To the east, Isabella Ridge extends upward to Big Craggy Peak. Then on the west are views of many of Washington State’s tallest peaks perching above Lost River Gorge.

McLeod Mountain looking stoic
McLeod Mountain looking stoic

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McLeod Mountain at a Glance

Environs = Midday Peak + Afternoon Mountain + Peachy Peak + Setting Sun Mountain
周圍地區=正午峯+午後山+錦繡峯+落日山

Access: NF-5200 > NF-500
Round Trip: 14 miles
Elevation Range: 4900′-8099′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

The Preface

The yellow pup and I kicked off my summer climbing adventures this Memorial Day weekend. At last, the North Cascades Highway had reopened two weeks ago. And so I decided to check out McLeod Mountain in an area we hadn’t yet explored.

The Forest Service hasn’t updated its website with current road conditions around Mazama in a while. But I figured we’d explore the area anyway. I had a nearby backup plan in case we couldn’t access the roads for any reason.

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Rough Drive to the Starting Point

Twice I got out to remove a few big rocks in the middle of Road 5200. But it was still passable with extra caution. There have been significant road repairs on the rough Long Creek Road (NF-500) in recent years. So I drove through very carefully.

The old washout by the Long Creek kept us from going farther but close enough to start our trip. So we slept right before the 4900′ road bend. Then the following day, the pup and I crossed the creek bed and up the northwest-facing ridge.

End of the drivable road
End of the drivable road

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Undulating Terrain

Just as the ridge took a turn to go north at 6400′, the snow appeared. Then we had the beautiful sight of Midday Peak (Peak 7670) to our left. Later, I put on snowshoes 7200′. Then we continued north. From here, I could see the rest of our route clear to the top.

Eventually, the steep terrain flattened at 7800′. From there, snow along the ridgeline looked spotty. So I stashed the snowshoes. We crossed over scree and snow patches in the last 200′ up to the top. But it was quite manageable.

 Beautiful Pasayten morning
Beautiful Pasayten morning

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McLeod Mountain Summit Plus Views

What a gorgeous day to open the season with this mountain. To the north, views reached far past the border. Likewise, views to the west were just as immense. The familiar peaks included Robinson Mountain, Lago Slam, and Ptarmigan Peak.

We also had views to the south in Ithe Methow Valley. Plus, Craggy Slam peaks were directly north of here. Snow remained in higher elevations on taller mountains. The whiteness overflowingly emphasized the hilly ridges all around us.

South-to-west panoramic view
South-to-west panoramic view

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Leaving McLeod Mountain for Midday Peak

The excellent weather and more extended daylight had me pumped. So I drew inspiration from other trip reports to traverse the ridge to Setting Sun Mountain. But first, we went back to the saddle with Midday Peak.

From there, we snowshoed up the northeast ridge of Midday Peak. But we didn’t spend much time at the summit. So after a glance at the surrounding landscape, we continued west on the ridgeline. Our next stop was Afternoon Mountain.

Next stop, Midday Peak
Next stop, Midday Peak

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Afternoon Mountain and Peachy Peak

Being next door to Midday Peak, Afternoon Mountain offered more or less the same scenery. We also didn’t stay long here, just enough time to grab some photos. The faraway-looking Setting Sun Mountain was calling our name.

Soon, we walked down the southwest ridge toward Peachy Peak and bypassed Point 6800 via its south saddle. From there, we took the north ridge up to the summit. But it would’ve been great to have more snow over the ridgeline.

Three more to go
Three more to go

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Onward to Setting Sun Mountain

Soon, we set off for the final ridge traverse to Setting Sun Mountain by moving west on the crest. Snow now looked skimpy for the rest of the way to Point 7125. So I decided to save some weight and leave my snowshoes by Point 6983. 

It was apparent that the Forest Service had recently cleared down trees along this ridgeline. Right after bypassing Point 7125 from the north, the ridge turned north-northwest through to Point 6988. We mainly moved on and west of the crest.

Final stop, Setting Sun Mountain
Final stop, Setting Sun Mountain

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Setting Sun Mountain Summit Views

From the south saddle, we strolled up the final 400′ to the top. By now, we were both in need of an overdue nap. Judging by the concrete foundation and crossbars, a lookout site was once on this broad summit.

Views were incredible in the afternoon light. It may not seem like far, but I couldn’t believe we had come from McLeod Mountain. We spent more time here since it was our last goal of the day. I got busy with taking photos and never took the nap I wanted.

Methow Valley panoramic view
Methow Valley panoramic view

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Outro

On the way back to Peachy Peak, we bypassed the summit by cutting to its south ridgeline at 7000′. Forest Service had also put in more work here by clearing out the massive down trees. Then at 6400′, we went south on the tree-infested terrain to Road 560.

The path took us back to Long Creek Road, with many berms over the roadway keeping out motorized vehicles. We later reached the 5300′ junction in one mile. Then we hiked another two miles on Long Creek Road back to the car.

Hopping outro
Hopping outro

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