Located deep within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Highchair Mountain affords the best views of The Cradle, being situated directly across the valley from it. It also occupies a key vantage point for unusual perspectives of Harding Mountain, Eightmile Mountain, Cashmere, Ingalls Peak, Grindstone Mountain, and of course, Mt. Stuart. Highchair Mountain is usually combined with a scramble of Bootjack Mountain. The Blackjack Ridge Trail, which ascends up to Bootjack, is the normal way to climb Highchair. However, adding an ascent of Highchair will turn the day from a rather easy, moderate scramble, into a long, arduous day. Be sure that the weather is good when climbing Highchair. There is considerable evidence of lightning strikes on the ridge connecting Bootjack and Highchair.
While technically easy, Highchair is probably not climbed all that often because it is such a long day. The main benefits of climbing Highchair are the great ridge-running experience from Bootjack and the superb views of The Cradle.
Ridge from Bootjack to Highchair
Final climb to Highchair Summit
Drive US-2 to Leavenworth. If heading east, just before you reach downtown, turn right towards the Icicle Creek Road. Take the Icicle Creek Road almost all the way to its end. Park just before Black Pine Creek Horse Camp. Find the trailhead on the south side of the road, across from the large parking area, elevation 2850 feet. Take the trail a short distance to find the intersection with the Blackjack Ridge Trail. Now start to climb. At first it's steep. Then it gets even steeper. You'll climb 3,300 feet in three miles. Just before three miles, you'll crest the ridge and break out of the trees into an old burn area. Follow the trail to a lookout point where it then heads down into the basin. Do not follow the trail down. Instead, turn right and head straight up the ridge. You'll encounter a climber's boot track. Take the boot track up the ridge and scramble the summit of Bootjack Mountain. Descend Bootjack Mountain down the other side, working your way along the ridge connecting it and Highchair to the south. For the most part, it is easy to follow the very top of the ridge. In places, you'll need to drop down just slightly on the east side of the ridge to avoid a couple of gendarmes. At the low point of the ridge (6180 feet), leave the ridge and go into the larch-filled basin. Travel is easier here. Encounter a pond filled with tadpoles. Water is available here into late season. Climb up the basin until the highest band of trees, then traverse right back to the ridge. Follow the ridge directly to the summit. Trip Stats: Distance: 11 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: With ups and downs, 5300 feet. Difficulty: Mainly Class 2, with some minor Class 3 on the summit of Bootjack Mountain.
Red Tape & Camping
Basin below Highchair Summit
The Cradle from Highchair Summit
This area would not be recommended for camping, since it is too steep and there are no established sites. It would be possible to camp near the tadpole pool near the summit of Highchair, but that is a long way to take a heavy pack with little apparent benefit. This is really a day trip.
You will enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness about 1 mile into the Blackjack Ridge Trail. All Wilderness rules apply. Permits are available at the trailhead on a self-served basis. To park here, it is required to have a Northwest Trail Park Pass ($5/daily, $30/annually) or an interagency pass ($80/annually).
The closest ranger station is in Leavenworth. You can contact them at:
Lake Wenatchee Ranger Station
State Route, Box 109
Leavenworth, WA 98826
Sixty-Six Hundred Ridge from Summit of Highchair
Mt. Stuart in the clouds from Highchair Mountain
For links to the Forest Service and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, go to: