Headlee Pass/Vesper Peak


Miles: 5 roundtrip to pass

10 roundtrip to Vesper

Elevation: 2,500 feet gained to pass

4,100 feet gained to Vesper 

Photo courtesy of Ed Hogle
Start with a short section of the trail through trees that lend their roots to the path, and then climb up through sometimes very brushy, avalanche sections. About half way to the pass, the trail can be hard to find as it travels though a huge rock field. Short, steep switchbacks lead you to the pass. The hillside is so steep that this can be a dangerous section, so be cautious of falling rocks. Some hikers turn around here after soaking in the views and watching other hikers climb the chute coming behind them. On to Vesper Peak, the trail dips a bit to the outlet creek of Lake Elan. This is a climber's route from here up and sometimes marked by rock cairns. It is easily followed and requires a few rock slab traverses. Copper Lake and the back side of Big Four Mountain are both prominent at the summit.
  • Get there: Take the Mountain Loop Highway past Verlot about 17 miles. Turn right on FS road 4065 and follow it to its end to find the trailhead about two and a half miles from the highway.