Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade III
Elevation Gain
4,100.00 ft (1,249.68 m)
9.00 mi (14.48 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Vesper Peak offers excellent views of nearby peaks and lakes and is a great intermediate climb, whether you are headed up for an intense one-day ascent or taking an overnight at Elan Lake for a multi-day trip to Vesper and neighboring Sperry Peak.

The standard route leaves from the Sunrise Mine Trailhead and proceeds through dense old-growth and a few stream crossings. One crossing in particular, through the South Fork of the Stillaguamish, can be challenging, and it can be helpful to carry a pair of shoes or sandals that you don’t mind getting wet. The route ascends a brushy avalanche slope and passes Wirtz Basin; you will need to climb the steep slope between Sperry Peak and the north side of Morning Star.

The trail can be difficult to spot, but there are numerous cairns in place to help. The elevation gain becomes much steeper and the terrain much narrower once you’re through Headlee Pass. Note that this pass can be hazardous in winter, and proficiency with crampons and an ice ax is recommended.

You’ll see Vesper Peak from the top of the 4,600-foot pass, and the trail begins a traverse to the right toward Elan Lake (also known as Vesper Lake). Continue to follow the main path that puts you on large slabs for the last 1000 feet to the summit. This summit is rather large for relaxing and can hold many people. Check for the summit register in a brass tube, and enjoy the sweeping views.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Great views. Old-growth forest. Lake.


Can have some big crowds.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

2,100.00 ft (640.08 m)


Backcountry camping
Rock climbing
Bird watching
Big vistas
Old-growth forest


Nearby Lodging + Camping


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.