Distance: 10 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain: 3090 feet
Difficulty: easy trail-hike
The most interesting thing about Hannegan Peak is it's volcanic origin. It is estimated that nearby Mount Baker has been the magmatic center of volcanic activity for 1.5 million years. But previously, 4 million years ago, that center was located near Hannegan Peak in the area now known to geologists as the Hannegan Caldera. This makes the Hannegan Caldera the oldest traceable volcanic center in the area. There is plenty of evidence to this effect, for instance the steep eroded cliffs of Ignimbrite on the southeast face and also the plentiful open rhyolite slopes slopes just west of the summit. Click here to read more about rhyolite. From the summit one may look southeast and envision the overall size of the crater.
This stretch of land is a particularly spectacular part of Washington State. The trail traverses the north side of a long valley with Ruth creek running below. Waterfalls tumble down from glaciers along the side of Mount Sefrit and Nooksack Ridge. The, gradually Ruth Mountain comes into view after the first mile. The trail is very well graded all the way to Hannegan Pass which is one of a few of the main gateways to the Picket Range. From the pass options include:
A) turn left for Hannegan peak.
B) continue straight towards Mount Challenger, the Northern Pickets, and Ross Lake
C) turn right and climb Ruth and/or Icy
With option A it's another mile and 1,200 feet of elevation gain to reach the top of Hannegan Peak. Those hikers with some energy left over might want to consider taking another mile over to the summit of neighboring Granite Mountain.
The views from the summit of Hannegan includeRuth Mountain, the Nooksack Tower, Mount Shuksan , Goat Mountain, Mount Sefrit, Granite Mountain, Mount Chardonnay, Slesse Mountain, the Silesia and Chilliwack Valleys, Copper Mountain, Mount Challenger, the Picket Range, Mount Blum, Mount Redoubt, Tomyhoi Peak, Mount Larrabee, and many more. Good campsites are available a half mile before the pass at Hannegan Camp, and on top of Hannegan Peak as well.
The Hannegan Pass Trail deserves as much praise as Hannegan peak itself. A mile beyond Hannegan Pass you enter the North Cascades National Park. Once in the park a network of trails will take you North to Canada or East to Whatcom Pass and eventually to Ross Lake. Look in any guide book and you will notice this stretch receives the highest possible rating.
A toilet and dispersed campsites are provided at the trailhead.
Always check Current Road Status
A Northwest Forest Pass is required for each vehicle parked at the Hannegan Pass trailhead $5 per day or $30 for an annual pass.
Where to get PARKING PASSES:
- SHELL GAS STATION: in Maple Falls, is on the right (heading East). They make good pretzels too. ---NO GASOLINE AVAILABLE BEYOND THIS POINT!!!--- no gas between Maple Falls and Deming (heading West).
- GLACIER PUBLIC RANGER STATION: (360) 599-2714 On the right (heading East) as you leave the town of Glacier.
- Bellingham REI: (360) 647-8955
400 36th St Bellingham. Take a left off exit 252 (WWU-Bill McDonald Parkway), another left, it's in the Haggen lot.
Closed for the season after Oct. 11
When To Climb
Depending on conditions Hannegan Peak can be climbed all year. Hannegan Road is buried under snow for much of winter, but the road is an easy ski and melts out early, check the snow level to get a rough idea how far you can get up the road.
There is significant avalanche hazard here in winter, as well as wet slab avalanche hazards in spring. The long traverse is South facing and offers continuous avalanche exposure. You'll climb up the south facing aspect of Hannegan peak but for a time you'll be on an east facing aspect. Make sure conditions on these slopes are good before you leave and check conditions as you go.
Be extra careful when crossing creeks and drainages on snow bridges. Generally from early may until October is the best time to climb.
- There are nice car-camping sites and facilities at the trailhead.
- Campsites are available .5 miles before Hannegan Pass at Hannegan Camp (backcountry toilet here and at Hannegan Pass)
- There is also a campsite on top of Hannegan Peak as well as a few other bivy spots.
Check Snow Level
Check Avalanche Report
Check Weather Forecast
Current Road Status
Remember that these are general warnings and forecast, always use good judgment and retreat if necessary.
You will be almost exclusively on south facing Slopes for this climb, with one brief east facing slope.
In summer this is just a hike but you may encounter some snow, an Ice Axe or at least trekking poles are a good idea before July. Mosquitoes are bad up until late July at which point you will encounter millions of flies, so bring some repellent!
In winter or spring snowshoes and or crampons may be necessary. Trekking poles and an Ice axe are mandatory, especially if you decide to do Ruth Mountain as well. There are some slopes that would be suspect in avalanche conditions so keep that in mind, a shovel, beacon, and probe wouldn't hurt. This route is easier to follow than others in the winter given that it is straight and open so wands probably aren't necessary. You won't encounter any glaciers on Hannegan, so leave the crevasse gear at home.