OverviewWhile great things often come in small packages, great views often come from relatively small peaks. Copper Mountain may seem like a small fry, and compared to other peaks in the area it kinda' is. But the profile view of Mt. Ellinor's and Pershing's north faces is no small matter.
If you are one of the half dozen hiker types from western Washington who has not been to the top of Mt. Ellinor or a neighboring peak, then chances are you have never seen Copper Mountain. For those who have been on top and yet never knew, Copper Mountain is the smaller tripple summited peak immediately to the northwest. Though not by very far, the 3 summits all extend above tree line and offer a wee little bit of exposed scrambling near their tops.
The mountain was named by Lieutenant O'Neil on July 7, 1890 after prospectors had discovered copper ore that year on the mountain.
The mountain is roughly 2 miles west of Mt. Ellinor and sits right on the boundary between national forest and national park.
Getting ThereGetting there is about as straightforeward as it gets. Near the north end of the town of Hoodsport along US HWY 101, turn west on Lake Cushman Road (big signs on the highway with brown background mark the road) and follow it about 9 miles to a T-intersection with FS Rd 24. Turn left at the "T" and drive another 6 miles or so along Lake Cushman to the road end at the Staircase Ranger Station about a mile inside the Olympic National Park boundary. Tale the Wagonwheel Lake trail which starts behind the ranger station near the back of the overflow parking area.
Red TapeTo get into Staircase, you will have to pass the Park Service guard station on the road and pay the entrance fee which is currently $15 per vehicle and is good for 7 days. Of course the $30 annual Olympic National Park Pass or the America the Beautiful Pass will get you access.
Since Wagonwheel Lake is in the national park, to camp there (which really isn't necessary on this day trip climb) you will need a backcountry permit which is $5 plus $2 per person per night.
For more information:
Olympic National Park Phone -- (360)565-3130
Olympic National Park website info
CampingCopper Mountain is easily a day trip, but camping at the Staircase Campground for a few days makes exploring other regional attractions quite convenient.
Once could also camp backcountry style at Wagonwheel Lake, inside the park boundry and subject to park regulations (see Red Tape section). The lake is ringed by trees which helps minimize the views of anything other than the lake's stagnant water -- unless forest fires have burned the trees in recent years? When I climbed Copper Mountain in August 1997, my first thought upon reaching Wagonwheel Lake was that I had no choice but to summit the peak if I wanted to have some views. On a different note, if you happen to be an entomologist who specializes in mosquitos, you will find Wagonwheel to be an exceptional place to conduct your research.