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

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Chopaka Mountain is the highest point in Chopaka Mountain Natural Area Preserve. The area near the border features mountain goats and various rare plants. Best of all, it’s a great place to seek solitude and celebrate my 32 years in the States.

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. But I needed a scenery change this weekend. So I decided to visit upper-central Washington State while the weather was still cool.

Hurley Peak, Joe Mills Mountain, and Snowshoe Mountain were part of the trip as well. The last peak is outside the preserve and the farthest away from the rest. But 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. Though, this time, I didn’t drive to the end. Instead, I took Ninemile Creek Road at mile eight. But not before Google Maps decided to take me through Lower Chopaka Lake Road. It’s now a truck route.

All in all, it took 20 extra minutes to reach Cold Springs Campground. To this day, I have yet to see a reasonable estimate from Google Maps on service roads. It was a smooth ride but 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. Though, interestingly, Chopaka Mountain Trail ends there. The old road we took by the entrance doesn’t go to the top either. It bypasses the mountain from the west.

So we walked half a mile on the road. Then we left the path at 6400′ and went straight up the open forest. Soon, views to the south expanded. But starting at above 6000′ made all nearby peaks look like lowland hills.

Rocky slopes
Rocky slopes

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Chopaka Mountain Summit Views

Before long, we walked up the last few hundred feet through the talus. At the same time, we stayed just below east of the south ridge with grassy paths. Soon, we were on the broad and rocky summit.

While views were expansive, we were far from much of Cascades’ dramatic landscape. So, for now, Windy Peak‘s steep east face eight miles away would have to do. Off to the distant southwest was the distinct 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 just a little over a mile north of Chopaka Mountain. So from the top, we dropped down the gentle north ridge to the saddle. Then we crossed the old road and continued up Hurley Peak’s mild southern slopes to the top.

Views were similar to Chopaka Mountain. But here, I could see more of Palmer Lake flowing through the broad Similkameen River Valley. Then it dawned on me that we had crossed the river five years earlier near its source by Manning Park.

Southeastern panoramic view
Southeastern panoramic view

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Stopover on Joe Mills Mountain

Back on the south saddle, we walked west on the old road to Joe Mills Mountain. It felt like forever to get there because we made lots of photo stops. Later we left the roadway by the snowy junction and went 200′ up to the top.

It was breezy all day. Though the sun has been out since mid-morning, the wind chill has significantly reduced the temperatures. Here I spotted cars moving inside Canada along Highway 3.

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, snow has melted sooner in this part of the state. So it was mostly dry, with lingering snow on the north side of the mountains.

Even though Snowshoe Mountain was only four miles away, it’s the 1600′ drop that made it feel much farther. So first, we went down the steep west side along the fence. Then we picked up the road that led us down to Olallie Creek.

Final stop, Snowshoe Mountain
Final stop, Snowshoe Mountain

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Snowshoe Mountain Climb

Either I missed the memo, or I purposely skipped the part about down trees. But there they were, strewing the entire southeast side of the mountain. Later we went over to the south ridge, where the number of logs dwindled.

Soon, more down trees showed up between 6800′ and 7200′ over the meadows. Meanwhile, we spotted a trail amid the debris. Later we avoided the huge boulders below Point 7480 from the west. Then we 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 mixture of rocks and grassy paths got us up on another windy summit. From here, Pasayten Wilderness’s boundary was only another mile away. Then a few more miles to the west was the famous Horseshoe Basin.

Windy Peak was still the main attraction. But I could see Remmel Mountain looming in the distant west behind Horseshoe Mountain as well. Then there were Arnold Peak and Armstrong Mountain 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 go back over those annoying down trees. So on the way out, we took the south ridge. Then we went through steep, grassy, open terrain and reached Olallie Creek Trail shortly.

The trail overlapped with the lesser-known Pacific Northwest Trail. But later, we missed Long Draw Trail to go south because of a large down tree blocking the path. So after walking north a bit, we turned around and found the junction.

Outro
Outro

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Back to Cold Springs Trailhead

There were so many down logs on both sides of the trail. Luckily, the path was mostly clear, and we only climbed over a handful en route. Later the roadway took a turn east at the lowest point of the trip. It’s the start of Chopaka Mountain Road as well.

From there, it’s another three miles to go back up to the car. Along the way, we walked through an area that looked like a reroute because the path was less defined. But thank goodness for the ample diamond markers leading the way!

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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