Chopaka Mountain Natural Area Preserve via Cold Springs Trail / 喬帕卡山

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Chopaka Mountain is the high point in Chopaka Mountain Natural Area Preserve. The area near the border features mountain goats and various rare plants. Best of all, it was the perfect place for solitude and celebrating my 32 years.

Chopaka Mountain from Hurley Peak
Chopaka Mountain from Hurley Peak

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Chopaka Mountain at a Glance

Environs = Hurley Peak + Joe Mills Mountain + Snowshoe Mountain
週圍地區=赫利峯+喬米爾斯山+雪鞋山

Access: Cold Springs Trailhead
Round Trip: 15 miles
Elevation Range: 5720′-7881′
Gear: none
Route Info: Rich P
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Chopaka Mountain Natural Area Preserve

We finished our four-week tour of Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness last week. Then we changed the scenery this weekend by visiting upper-central Washington State. It was a better time to go while the weather was still cool.

I’ve included Hurley Peak, Joe Mills Mountain, and Snowshoe Mountain on this trip. The last peak is outside the preserve, the farthest from the rest. But at the same time, it’s the closest to Pasayten Wilderness.

Gold Springs Trailhead
Gold Springs Trailhead

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Ninemile Creek Road

It was my fourth time on Toats Coulee Road but the first trip not having to drive to the end. Instead, we took Ninemile Creek Road at mile eight, not before Google Maps took us through Lower Chopaka Lake Road. It’s now a truck route.

I have yet to see a reasonable estimate from Google Maps on service roads. All in all, it took 20 extra minutes to reach Cold Springs Campground. It was smooth overall, with a few short washboard sections en route.

This way to Chopaka Mountain
This way to Chopaka Mountain

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Chopaka Mountain Climb

Chopaka Mountain is the closest to Cold Springs Trailhead. Interestingly, Chopaka Mountain Trail ends by the entrance. The old road we took from there doesn’t go to the top either. It bypasses the mountain from the west.

Half a mile on the road, we soon left the path at 6400′. Then we went through the open forest as views to the south slowly expanded. But starting above 6000′ had made all the neighboring peaks look like lowland hills.

Rocky slopes
Rocky slopes

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Chopaka Mountain Summit Views

Before long, we were walking up the last few hundred feet through the talus. At the same time, we stayed east of the south ridge with grassy paths for traction. Soon, we were on the broad and rocky summit, enough to house an army.

While the views were vast, we were far from much of the Cascades’ dramatic landscape. Windy Peak‘s steep east face eight miles away would have to do for now. Off to the distant southwest was the sight of Gardner Mountains and Silver Star Mountain.

Similkameen River Valley with some Palmer Lake
Similkameen River Valley with some Palmer Lake

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Chopaka Mountain to Hurley Peak

Hurley Peak was a little over a mile north of Chopaka Mountain. From the top, we dropped onto the gentle north ridge to the saddle and crossed the old road. Then we continued up Hurley Peak’s mild south slopes to the top.

Overall, the views here were similar to Chopaka Mountain. But I saw more Palmer Lake flowing through the broad Similkameen River Valley. Soon, it dawned on me that we had crossed it by Manning Park five years earlier.

Southeastern panoramic view
Southeastern panoramic view

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Stopover on Joe Mills Mountain

Back on the south pass, we went west on the road to Joe Mills Mountain. It felt like forever to reach it because we stopped a lot for photos. We later left the roadway by the snowy junction and walked up 200′ to the top.

It’s been breezy all day. Although the sun has been out since mid-morning, the wind chill has reduced the temperatures significantly. Here we spotted cars moving along Highway 3 in Canada.

Chopaka Mountain from Joe Mills Mountain
Chopaka Mountain from Joe Mills Mountain

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Final Stop, Snowshoe Mountain

Speaking of snowshoes, glad I didn’t need them for this trip. Despite the high altitude, most snow has melted on this side of the state. It turned out mostly dry, with lingering patches north of the mountains.

Snowshoe Mountain was only four miles away, but the 1600′ drop had made it feel much farther. We first went down the steep west slope along the fence. Then we picked up the road and walked down to Olallie Creek.

Final stop, Snowshoe Mountain
Final stop, Snowshoe Mountain

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Snowshoe Mountain Climb

I either missed the memo or skipped reading the part about down trees. But they had taken over the entire southeast side of the mountain. But once we went up the south ridge, the number of logs dwindled.

More tree debris appeared over the meadows between 6800′ and 7200′. Soon, we spotted a trail amid the down logs. We avoided the giant boulders below Point 7480 from the west and moved back onto the crest at 7500′.

Final scramble on Snowshoe Mountain
Final scramble on Snowshoe Mountain

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Snowshoe Mountain Views

Another 200′ through a mix of rocks and grass put us on another windy summit. From here, Pasayten Wilderness was only another mile away. Then a few more miles to the west would be the famous Horseshoe Basin.

Windy Peak continued to be the main feature. But I could now see Remmel Mountain looming in the distant west behind Horseshoe Mountain. Plus, Arnold Peak and Armstrong Mountain stood by the border.

Hurley Peak, Joe Mills Mountain, and Chopaka Mountain
Hurley Peak, Joe Mills Mountain, and Chopaka Mountain

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Exiting

I didn’t want to return to the car over the annoying down trees. So we took the south ridge on the way out instead. Then we went through steep, grassy open terrain and eventually reached Olallie Creek Trail.

The trail overlapped with the lesser-known Pacific Northwest Trail. But we missed Long Draw Trail to go south because of a sizeable down log blocking the view. So after walking north a bit, we backtracked and found the fork.

Outro
Outro

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Back to Cold Springs Trailhead

There were lots of down logs on both sides of the trail. But the path was mostly clear, with only a handful en route. The road turned east at the lowest point of the trip, which was also the start of Chopaka Mountain Road.

From there, it’s only three miles to the car. Along the way, we walked through an area that looked like a reroute because of the less-defined paths. But thank goodness for the ample diamond markers showing us the way!

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

See more trip photos here.

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