The northeast approach for Mission Peak is a semi-popular snow route during Winter and Spring months, and a less-popular cross-country route during Summer and Autumn months.
The summit approach begins at the Mission Ridge Ski Area parking lot (or the Upper Devils Gulch Trailhead as an alternate starting location during periods without snowpack). The route first follows a trail system to Clara Lake and Marion Lake, then becomes a cross-country route to the summit of Mission Peak.
The route is generally considered non-technical, at least after avalanche danger has passed. With that said, much of the terrain encountered on the route looks similar and is not recommended for amateur solo hikers. Potential summiters using this approach need to be capable of properly using a GPS device, and/or map & compass. The purpose of this Route page is to help limit route-finding questions for this cross-country summit approach.
FROM WENATCHEE, WA:
Driving directions begin from intersection of S. Mission Street and Stevens Street/Hwy 285. Basically, follow signs to Mission Ridge Ski Area.
1) Drive south on Mission Street, leaving the city of Wenatchee.
2) After 7.9 miles, turn right onto Mission Ridge Road.
3) After 4.2 miles, reach the Mission Ridge Ski Area parking lot.
4) Park at the northernmost end of the parking lot, furthest from the ski lift area. This area is generally fenced-off or gated-off when the ski area is not officially open. If this parking area is full or closed, several automobile pullouts can be found nearby on the east side of Mission Ridge Road.
Northeast Traverse Route Map
1) At the north end of the Mission Ridge Ski Area parking lot (~4600' elevation), on the north side of Mission Ridge Road, is a trailhead.
NOTE: This trailhead is not shown on most maps.
2) Hike westward along the trail.
3) After 0.4 miles, the trail intersects the Pipeline Trail, which is a wide road-trail. Cross over the Pipeline Trail and continue hiking west. This trail is the Squilchuck Trail.
Following Squilchuck Trail...
4) After 0.50 miles from the trail intersection, the trail reaches a turnoff for Marion Lake. Turn left (west) and head towards Marion Lake.
NOTE: During periods of snowpack, more direct routes might be taken from Squilchuck Trail towards Marion Lake. Such routes are usually created and frequently used by cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Good routefinding abilities are required if no paths are present.
Heading through forest towards Marion Lake...
5) After the trail junction, Clara lake is passed within a few minutes and then Marion Lake (~5500' elevation) is reached within 0.25 miles. Marion Lake represents the official beginning of the cross-country/off-trail section for this summit approach of Mission Peak.
Marion Lake (frozen-over)
6) From Marion Lake, head west-southwest towards an unnamed ridge with a 6480'+ elevation highpoint. For simplicity, it will be referred to as Point 6480+.
Looking up at Point 6480+
7) Once at ~6100' elevation on the east side of Point 6480+, begin side-traversing around the north side of the ridge. Use caution during this section of the route when traveling on snow, as avalanches and minor snowslides are possible in this area; stay close to the trees.
NOTE: In contrast, the open, steep south slopes of the ridge are regularly used by skiers and should be avoided for that reason during periods of snowpack.
Side-traversing the north side of Point 6480+
8) Once Point 6480+ has been passed, begin traversing southwest and uphill through dense evergreen forests, until reaching a large basin at ~6400' elevation.
NOTE: If concerned about avalanche conditions, terrain, etc. then an alternate variation beyond Point 6480+ would be to continue due west to an old jeep track which is known as the Old Lookout Trail. Then follow the trail to the summit. However, this alternate variation would increase hiking/ snowshoeing distance. This alternate variation is shown on the route map included on this page.
At the north end of the basin...
9) Once at the basin, cross it and continue heading southwest and uphill across open & larch-filled slopes towards the ridgeline of Mission Peak.
NOTE: The upper northeast slopes are both steep and open in places. Use caution during periods of snowpack, as avalanches are possible in this area.
Approaching the summit rocks...
10) Once near the ridgetop, the basalt summit rocks start coming into view nearby. Ascend a final short, steep slope on either its north end (preferred) or south end (between summit rocks and southern false summit). Then follow the slanted summit ridge to the summit (6876' elevation).
Atop the summit ridge...
6.5-7.5 miles, depending on route variations.
ALTERNATE SUMMER/AUTUMN STARTING POINT FOR ROUTE:
During periods without snowpack, an alternate starting location for this route is the Upper Devils Gulch Trailhead. This starting location has ~600' elevation gain less than the standard northeast traverse mentioned above but with more hiking/snowshoeing distance involved. Here are the directions for the Upper Devils Gulch Trailhead:
1) One mile after turning onto Mission Ridge Road turn right onto Beehive Road, also known as Forest Service Road 9712.
2) Follow this road 4.3 miles to the Upper Devils Gulch Trailhead.
3) From this trailhead, you have two options: Follow the Pipeline Trail or follow the Squilchuck Trail.
3a) For the Pipeline Trail, head south towards the Mission Ridge Ski Area until reaching the unmarked trail junction mentioned earlier. Unless familiar with the area and the various trails and roads, this hiking variation is only recommended for a return-trip to the trailhead, due to the unmarked junction and the fact the Pipeline Trail is easier to distinguish than other nearby trails. The Pipeline Trail will also add at least one mile each direction to the trip.
3b) For the Squilchuck Trail, from the Upper Devils Gulch Trailhead hike up Forest Service Road 9712 for one mile to the Squilchuck Trail. Then follow the Squilchuck Trail until reaching the trail junction for Marion Lake. Turn right at the trail junction and follow to marion Lake, then continuing along the route as described earlier.
*Potential followers of this route should be skilled with proper use of a GPS device, and/or map & compass.
Snowshoes (during snowpack)
Microspikes or crampons might be handy during late Spring/early Summer after much of the snow has been consolidated, packed down, and/or exposing icy layers.