Access: Skookum Volcano trailhead (Mile 36.8 Nabesna Road)
Maps: USGS Quadrangle Maps –Nabesna B-5
Distance/Time: Approximately 10-14 miles and 2-3 days, depending on route taken. This is a route, not a trail.
Difficulty: Difficult to very difficult, depending on route taken. Nearly 4,000’ max elevation gain, rough loose terrain, steep side-hilling in places. This is only a description of a possible route, and hik-ers should use their best judgment and hike within their abilities. Some sections of this route involve steep, loose terrain, and high cliffs.
Highlights: Stunning views, vast open valleys, high mountains, unique geology, excellent sheep viewing, remote backcountry acces-sible off the Nabesna Road.
Route: The trail begins at the Skookum Volcano trailhead (Mile 36.8 Nabesna Road) and follows until the pass (see SkookumVolcano trail descriptionfor more information). From the pass on, there is no trail, and one must pick one of two routes.
The safest and easiest route is to drop directly over the pass (4,700’), and down the creek to about the 4,000’ level. From there one will need to either take a right hand turn south-west back up the ridge, or drop over into the next val-ley, and follow the creek bed up.
The more technical and scenic route begins from the pass, and heads southward, directly up the mountain. There is a large rock wall directly up from the pass, which one can either go around to the right, or take a small cut directly through the middle. Once through the cut, there are several small sheep trails one can take, up to an elevation of about 5,600’. One should then pass under a rock outcropping above, and from here on it is critical to get as close to the mountain face, on the right, as possible. At the base of the cliffs there is a sandy area which is passable –just keep as high as possible, and go slow. Continue up the base of the cliff until you are directly above the volcanic stacks on your left. Continue up to about the 6,000’ level, or until you can get onto the ridge heading to the left, out to the volcanic stacks. One can then either head directly down to the valley below on your right, or continue on, side-hilling up the val-ley. Be aware that there are many narrow gullies which can be very steep and bordered with loose scree and talus.
Skookum Volcano to Rambler Mine
A good camping area can be found in the valley between the 5,000-5,300’ level. A clear stream runs down the valley and can be used as a water source –however boiling and/or purifying the water is recommended for drinking use.
Continue south-west up the valley, as it gradually slopes up to another pass. Taking the right side of the creek is pre-ferred, as it funnels directly up to the pass. Be aware that there is often snow and ice present in this area in the early-mid summer.
Once reaching the pass, one can either drop directly down into the next valley (Skookum Creek), or take a left, and head east up the backside of the mountain (max elevation roughly 6,700’). From the peak, continue down to the sandy saddle between the two mountain peaks, and then head down into the Skookum Creek valley. Continue down the creek bed to a deep valley on your right hand side, and then you can once again choose between two routes. Glacier ice can be present in this valley, and one should use caution when traversing the ice, as it can be slippery and thin in places.
The more difficult of the two routes will take you back along the left side of the creek. The valley necks down to a very narrow canyon, which is impassible, so one must head up onto the side of the mountain before reaching the canyon. Be aware that there are several steep gullies and draws which you will need to cross if you are side-hilling back along the side of the mountain to the road.
The second route continues up the right side of the valley, along the side of White Mountain to the Rambler Mine. It involves more elevation gain and is more strenuous, however, it is safer and requires less intensive climbing. Continue along the mountain and around to the right until reaching the Rambler Mine Area. (See Rambler Mine Trail description for more information).
There is NO established trail present between the Skookum and Rambler Mine trails. This is only a description of a possible route, and hikers should use their best judgment and hike within their abilities. Some sections of this route involve steep, loose terrain, and high cliffs.
Please practice Leave No Trace back-country ethics, and minimize impact on this fragile alpine area.