Vesper Peak - A Favorite Hike With Outstanding Views

Vesper Peak is one of the best hikes in the North Cascades. It's a long and hard hike, but you are rewarded with 360 degree views of some of the most spectacular peaks in Washington State.

Vesper Peak, Everybody's Favorite

Whenever I mention the name Vesper to any of my outdoorsy friends, I get the same response from every one of them.

Oh, that's my favorite peak!

And indeed, on that day, Vesper did not disappoint. Now it's my favorite hike, too. 

Here's a recount of our story.

Headlee Pass

This was a Seattle Mountaineers scrambling trip with a group of 10 other folks. We started at the Sunrise Mine trail head, where a sign says there are 2 miles to Headlee Pass.

 Sunrise Mine Trail Head - entry point towards Headlee Pass and Vesper Peak

Sunrise Mine Trail Head - entry point towards Headlee Pass and Vesper Peak

From the trail head we hiked for about 20 minutes through dense foliage to reach a narrow creek crossing.

 A narrow path across the creek

A narrow path across the creek

Once on the other side, we started switch-backing up in humid, 90 degrees weather, sweating like a shower. Tree cover was scarce on this section, but eventually the sun hid behind a giant rocky peak east of the trail to keep us cool.

 Hiking up the valley towards Headlee Pass

Hiking up the valley towards Headlee Pass

We continued up the valley, then on a bolder/scree field on the west shoulder, until we got to the bottom of a gully leading up to Headlee Pass.

 Making a big turn to start negotiating the Headlee Pass gully

Making a big turn to start negotiating the Headlee Pass gully

 Bottom of Headlee Pass gully

Bottom of Headlee Pass gully

 Headlee Pass gully seen from almost at the top

Headlee Pass gully seen from almost at the top

Vesper Peak

Here at the pass we stopped for a quick bite to eat. After we resumed, we crossed on the other side (the pass is very-very narrow), and saw Vesper Peak for the first time.

 Traversing another scree field towards Vesper Peak (snowy peak at top-right)

Traversing another scree field towards Vesper Peak (snowy peak at top-right)

 Our group lining up to see the destination

Our group lining up to see the destination

About 20 minutes from the pass, we got onto the snow field right below Vesper and stared marching up.

 Below the snow there might or might not be Vesper Lake

Below the snow there might or might not be Vesper Lake

 What a grand scale - view from right below Vesper's summit

What a grand scale - view from right below Vesper's summit

 Looking back toward the valley and the craggy peaks all around us

Looking back toward the valley and the craggy peaks all around us

After another 20 minutes or so, for a total of about an hour from the pass, we peaked the snowfield and gained the summit ridge.

 Final steps on the snow field

Final steps on the snow field

Once the snow ended, there was just under a hundred feet in elevation to reach the summit, a little scramble on big boulders, and a perfect place to have lunch, relax and enjoy the views. We deserved it.

 Vesper Peak Summit - the perfect lunch spot

Vesper Peak Summit - the perfect lunch spot

Here are the views we enjoyed while having lunch. You can't ask for more.

 This is Copper Lake, to the north east of Vesper Peak (photo taken from the summit)

This is Copper Lake, to the north east of Vesper Peak (photo taken from the summit)

 View from the rocky summit of Vesper Peak

View from the rocky summit of Vesper Peak

A great trip in great company.

I hope to come up here again when the air is clearer (from the eastern Washington fires). It would be great to spend the night up here, too, and enjoy a fabulous sunset with a hot whiskey cider in your hand.

Thanks for reading, and happy hiking!


Vesper Peak

/ / /

Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 4200' gain, 6200' high point


Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Location: Sunrise Mine Trailhead, NF-4065, Granite Falls, WA 98252
48.0247771, -121.4778228
Map: Green Trails Maps Sloan 111 and Silverton 110,
 Reach Vesper Peak from Sunrise Mine trailhead, through Headlee Pass

Reach Vesper Peak from Sunrise Mine trailhead, through Headlee Pass