Vesper Peak Trail is a 5.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Darrington, WA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.
this trail is pretty awesome and takes some work. we tried to summit today, but had to make do with a near ledge. we did not have crampons or spikes which are probably still needed to summit right now. Parts of the trail were not easily marked and we spend well over an hour building new cairns. The view from above the lake on a y of the near by ledges are great. I am willing to bet the summit would be worth the effort though.
Vesper Peak was by far my favorite hike, even though our group was ill-prepared and we didn't manage to stay on the trail. We went on a gorgeous day, but started too late in the day and got bullied by the sun and heat for most of the hike.
The trail starts in a forest and then emerges into an uncovered bit of trail before plunging back into the trees again. Right before the pass is a lovely boulder field and some short switchbacks. Navigating the boulder field was difficult, and we were unable to find the proper trail for most of the time. Views from the pass are great, but nothing compared to the peak.
After the pass, there's some more tree cover and some more boulder field before the stream and lakes. There is a small lake first, and you can continue on to the large lake, as we did. We were able to get some water using a filter from some other hikers (highly recommend bringing a filter) at the large lake. Our leader hadn't looked at the trail map very closely so we didn't know how to proceed to the peak, even though we could see it. So we started following cairns, and basically rock-climbed and scrambled our way up the rest of the mountain. I don't suggest that route for anyone who just wants a nice day hike. The correct route has its entrance over closer to the small lake, I believe.
Once we made it to the top, the view was breathtaking. You can see a lake to one side and mountains everywhere. The day we went, it was perfectly clear. It's a pretty comfortable spot to hang out for a while and enjoy the view as well.
Even on the gorgeous day that we went, we saw very few other hikers.
Would do again. Highly recommend.
There are an abundance of cairns that will help you get to the summit peak, but trail finding is still required at some points and always stay alert so you don't venture off. Also, geocacher's may find a surprise that will make the trip even better.
This trail is rough and one of the rockiest I have hiked in a long time. I would not recommend it for young children. As noted the main stream crossing can be dangerous if done in the Spring or early Summer. Headlee Pass in itself doesn't have the greatest views for the amount of effort you put in to get there. I highly suggest continuing on at least to the lake which is surrounded by rock walls. There isn't much elevation gain from the pass to the lake, just more boulder fields. The 360 views from Vesper are magnificent with several very jagged peaks nearby.
Great views but go late summer. Snow in the pass requires ax skills as there is no runout.
I disagree that this trail is mainly for rockclimbing. It was a great hike with lots of diversity and not just following a trail. The first part is forested and the trail includes roots and rocks. It took us a while to find the best and safest means of crossing the stream since at the time we hiked the water was high and swift. It was good that we had waterproof boots. Hopefully the huge log that my Army Ranger son hauled and tossed across the racing waters will be helpful to others that follow. After the stream, there were some steep switchbacks that were in open sun. It is worth making sure you do this hike on a clear day since the views were gorgeous.