Hoodoo Peak in Washington State is a gorgeous mountain that sits at an elevation of over 8,400'. It's one of the tallest mountains in the state and is best to visit during the fall.
A fall hike up Hoodoo Peak from the Libby Lake Trail is well worth the effort. Over around 11.5 miles, you'll climb 4,500 feet in elevation. The trail takes you through mountain slopes, larch forests, and off-trail before a tough and steep scramble to the summit ridge.
Hoodoo Peak is one of the most overlooked mountains in the Pacific Northwest but is well-worth visiting!
The mountain is one of the easier summits to attain of the peaks on the Washington 100 List, also known as the Bulger list, and has a fairly simple route to the top. It sits at #63. But it's important to keep in mind that although it's easier than, say, Snowfield Peak, it's not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
The peak's trail is fairly isolated, so even on perfectly sunny days, you're unlikely to be faced with the same crowds you'd see up Highway 20 closer to Seattle.
What You Need to Know
Trailhead: Libby Lake Trailhead (Navigate here, and you'll have no issues)
Permit: There is no permit required to park at the trailhead. You'll need to fill out a self-serve wilderness permit at the trailhead though.
Family Friendly? No, this trail is not family-friendly.
Dog friendly? Technically dogs are allowed, but most dogs will be unsafe on the ridge because of the loose rock.
Getting to Hoodoo Peak
To get to Hoodoo Peak, take Highway 153 (Methow Valley Hwy) west of Pateros for 31.5 miles. Turn left on Libby Creek Road. Take Black Pine Lake Rd at a slight left. Another left on NF-4340 before turning right on NF-700. The destination is at the end of this road.
Hiking Hoodoo Peak, WA
The Hoodoo Peak trailhead, or the Libby Lake Trailhead, is in Okanogan County. It has space for around 5 cars in the main parking area and room for many more along the road.
The trail starts immediately uphill with a few switchbacks. They're very low-angle, though, so you're unlikely to have any real issues here. The trail steepens some as it comes around the side of the hill with a few sandier and more overgrown sections. But, it's still very easy to follow.
The trail is exposed along the side of the hill, allowing spectacular views of the Methow Valley and beyond, to unfold on your left side. This is particularly true if you hike early in the morning. The sun will rise on your left, casting everything around you in a pink/yellow light. The view is also a great distraction from the continual uphill that you're now facing.
Before long, you'll find yourself in a clearly burnt-out area of the trail. Here, trees are barren and sparsely arranged, and you'll get your first taste of the many downed trees to come. For many years hikers have dealt with blowdowns in this area with reports dating back earlier than 2015 that mention downed trees. Work is done to remove these from the trail, but it appears to be a reoccurring issue.
Make sure to look up ahead of you at the large, bowl-shaped peak up ahead. That's Hoodoo. It looks pretty far away, and it's certainly not close! But the trail is very mellow to get there, and it won't take that long.
Luckily, the trail does flatten out some here before taking you downhill for a few minutes and into the woods. Here, you'll find yourself climbing up and over more trees, some of which are very closely clustered together.
The path takes you through the woods for about 3 or so miles. It goes up and down in places but is mostly gently inclined. Around this area, you'll find huge boulders, larch trees and do turn bright yellow in the fall, some small streams, and finally, an abandoned cabin.
Known as the Libby Lake Cabin, this disheveled, overgrown structure is the point where the trail splits. If you're going to Hoodoo, you'll want to take the faintly defined trail to the right of the cabin.
The trail to Libby Lake goes to the left, where the path is more defined. It's at this point that you're going to need to start paying closer attention to the path, as it is often hard to find.
The trail takes you uphill to a dried-out lake bed filled with rocks (strange!). Follow the trail around the left side of this unique feature before following it back into the woods. If you lose the trail, aim for the large cliff face in front of you. That's the left side of Hoodoo that you'll be climbing in just a few minutes.
Once you get to the base of the cliff (you'll know you're there when you see the ridge above you and a huge field of boulders at your feet), you'll need to aim slightly left before ascending. The easiest path up is just to the right of the notch (or the low point along the ridge). But you can go up wherever suits you. It's possible to aim straight up the steepest part of the slope or stick to a section that will take you further left along the ridge.
There is no single trail up to the ridgeline and summit of Hoodoo. It's a true "choose your own adventure" trail that adds some spice to this fairly mellow Bulger peak. If you're hiking with partners, make sure that you spread out enough to where any falling rock will miss you and those below you. The slope is very, very loose. Most of the big boulders are well stuck into the side of the slope, but others shift and slide under your weight.
Once on the ridge, take it to the right to the summit. Stay just right of the true ridge, slightly below it, in the easiest terrain. The high point up ahead with the unique, towering rock feature is the summit. Circle around to the far side of it and take the easiest path up. If you're unsure, do what feels easiest. There are no class 3 moves on the ridge.
The true summit is a large, elevated block that a maximum of 4 people could probably perch on at once. But, there is a large summit plateau that is covered in boulders and even has a carefully arranged bivy spot on the far side. Keep your eyes peeled for views of Lake Chelan in the distance.
To descend the peak, retrace your steps. We highly recommend aiming for the lower angle section of the slope when you're coming down, as it's much easier to avoid knocking rocks down. There is no trick to getting down except to take your time and focus on the section of trail you have in front of you. It's easy to get overwhelmed by what's to come!
Views on the way up Hoodoo Peak
When heading back into the forest, remember to keep your eyes peeled for the dried-out lake with the oddly scattered rocks. The real trail is on the far side of the lake. You'll find your way back to the cabin in no time.