OverviewSkyline Ridge, formerly known as Heather Ridge, is the prominent east-west ridge just north of Stevens Pass. It more than makes up for its lack of height and difficulty with amazing views, great scrambling and bouldering opportunities, and solitude- except in winter. With an average annual snowfall of nearly 40 feet, winter brings groups of backcountry and cross country skiers, snowboarders, as well as snowshoers.
Getting ThereFirst, find your way to Stevens Pass. Stevens Pass is located 65 miles east of Everett on SR 2, or 58 miles west of Wenatchee, also on SR 2. Park in the north Stevens Pass parking lot. In summer, this parking lot doubles as a PCT parking lot, but will have ample parking. Once the ski area opens for the winter, this lot tends to fill quickly on weekends and holidays.
Ascending- a tale of two routesThere is an "easier" but longer route that follows a road most of the way, and there is a steeper but much more direct route. The route you choose is up to you.
Each route starts in the same place. From the parking lot, walk the road just left of a grayish building. This road makes a near immediate left under some electrical transmission lines, and passes between some seasonal residences. Follow the road to a locked reddish brown gate.
Shortly (five minutes or so) arrive at a level spot in the road opposite a green WSDOT building. This is where the routes split.
If you want a boring hour long road slog with a handful of switchbacks, by all means, follow the road. This route merges again with the climbers trail in bit over a mile, and is easier to follow.
If you'd rather ascend the straight and steep climber's trail, look to your left (west) across from the green WSDOT building. There will be an obvious climber's trail here. This route cuts off all of the switchbacks, and at times can be difficult to follow the first time, but shaves 20 minutes or more off of your ascent time.
Google Earth clearly shows both routes if you zoom in just north of Stevens Pass.
Just short of cresting the ridge, the climber's path and the road meet. An obvious jeep trail to the left leads to Skyline Lake, and beyond, the summit of Skyline Ridge.
Travel around the southern edge of the lake to an obvious campsite. An obvious path here leads to a meadow, and the remains of an old cabin. At the cabin, bear right, and eventually pick up a climber's path towards the summit. Avoid the path to the left of the cabin, as it eventually ends well before the summit.
Four seasons of funSkiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are popular in this area. With a variety of terrain and untouched powder, there's a little something for everyone. Some people tour the ridge, while other daring folks drop off the south side of the ridge. If you're so inclined, be very, very careful on the southern slopes of the ridge. Avalanches are common- in January of 2002, five people were caught in an avalanche descending the southern slopes.
Between Skyline Lake and the summit is a blocky, rocky area of huge boulders- some the size of cars, some the size of homes. There are countless bouldering problems to choose from here. The most prominent boulder has an old sling and a rap ring attached to the top, but all of the boulders pose a variety of unique problems.
Red TapeA Northwest Forest Parking Pass is NOT required to park in this lot. Winter parking is also free.
Ownership of the ridge and surrounding area has been in question for years but currently doesn't pose an access issue. Please respect Stevens Pass and the cell phone towers in the area. Make sure that you leave no trace.
CampingNothing apparently prohibits camping in this area. Skyline Lake has a few established campsites on the west side of the lake.
External Links7 day forecast for the Stevens Pass area.
Avalanche forecast for the Stevens Pass area.