Hannegan Peak is situated on the western edge of some of the most awe-inspiring peaks in all of the North Cascades, making this hike an unforgettable experience. Go on a clear day and you'll be wishing you had weeks to explore those rugged mountains that you see in every direction.
Begin at the popular Hannegan Pass trailhead and climb gently for two miles through a mix of recovering forest and thick shrubbery to the first set of switchbacks. The views are generous on this early part of the hike, offering plenty of vistas across Ruth Creek Valley towards Mount Sefrit and Nooksack Ridge.
The trail steepens a bit at this point, and after making several zig-zags to gain some elevation, you'll continue eastward up the valley with snow-capped Ruth Mountain gradually becoming the dominating backdrop to the east.
At 4.0 miles, reach a small junction in the trail with signage alerting you of Hannegan Camp, a backcountry campground just a stone's throw away. Unless you plan on staying for the night, head left and continue up the trail to Hannegan Pass, a short distance further.
You'll officially reach (humble and forested) Hannegan Pass at 4.3 miles, the jumping off point for three major destinations. Going right will take you up the climbers route to the top of Ruth Mountain. Straight ahead leads to Copper Ridge and some of the most inaccessible mountains in all of Washington (including the Picket Range). Left will take you up to Hannegan Peak. (A small sign pointing the way to Copper Ridge was the only signage we could find on the pass, but the trail to the left is easy to find.)
After turning left at Hannegan Pass, you'll climb steeply for another mile up through fields of wildflowers to the summit at 6,200 ft. The views along this final stretch are fantastic, and make for a nice distraction from the leg-burn workout going on with every step. The shoulder of Mount Shuksan is perhaps most spectacular to see enroute, showcasing hanging glaciers and jagged rocks that seemingly defy gravity.
The summit is nearly bare, but a small clump of rocks and fir trees require that you walk the perimeter to see the views in every direction. And boy oh boy are there views. Look to the south to see the white cap of Mount Baker, then move your eyes eastward to Mount Shuksan and Ruth Mountain. Further east and far in the distance are the Pickets, and then as you turn north you'll see Copper Mountain and the nearby Canadian border peaks. Granite Mountain is the closest peak to the west, and further out you'll see Goat Mountain. Incredible.
Permits & Tips
Northwest Forest Pass required. Toilet available at trailhead and primitive pit toilet available at Hannegan Camp. No potable water. Bring plenty of sun protection and bug repellent. We recommend pants (zip-offs) for the thick brush along the early section of the trail. Camping sites are available at Hannegan Camp and there is one small camping spot at the summit of Hannegan Peak. First come, first served. If you plan to camp, obtain a backcountry pass from the Glacier Public Service Station. Be prepared to see horses and llamas.
How to get there
Head north on I-5 to exit 255 for Sunset Dr./WA-542.
Turn right at the end of the off-ramp and follow the highway east for 23 miles to Kendall.
Follow signs (to the right) to stay on 542 heading east. 11 miles further, you'll see the Glacier Public Service Center on your right (get your passes and other info here).
About 12 miles east of the Glacier Service Center, take a left onto Road no. 32, just before the Nooksack River bridge.
Follow the gravel road for 5.2 miles (stay left at the fork in the road at 1.5 miles) to the parking lot and campground at the end of the road.