Copper Glance Lake makes a good dayhike, fun fishing for brook trout, or a basecamp for some local exploration, but you must earn it. This trail seems steeper than its average slope would indicate.
The first half of the hike follows the old road to the Copper Glance Mine which was started in 1914, restarted in 1945 and closed down by 1960. As roads go, this is a steep one, making it about right for hiking, but it is just the warmup for the really steep trail sections beyond the mine.
The 2018 McLeod Mountain fire perimeter encompasses the entire trail. The impact is a patchwork of burned areas with pockets of unburned trees and brush. A small area around the mine and most of the lake basin were not directly impacted by the fire.
The trailhead, at elevation 3830 feet, is in unburned forest along Eightmile Road, which was used as a fire break for the 2018 fire. The Copper Glance road-trail quickly enters the burn zone with the usual areas of complete burn, root burnout holes, and pockets of flowers that survived the fire to provide some color.
At 0.4 miles, the road-trail crosses Copper Glance creek on a makeshift set of logs, replacing a jeep bridge that completely washed out in 2014. It’s interesting to see that the area around the creek survived the fire with little damage.
After another 0.6 miles of climbing, a rock outcropping at 4630 feet makes a good break point with views up and down the Eightmile Creek valley. Across the valley is Eightmile Ridge, where the effects of fire are evident (The 2014 Falls Creek Fire and the 2017 Diamond Creek Fire).
The road-trail continues another 0.6 mile, climbing to the open adit at 5170 feet with a sign describing the mine. Another closed adit is at the top of the tailings south of the open one. In 1914, over 2 tons of ore were removed from these two adits. The rails for the mine cart remain in the lower, unstable open mine.
After the mine, the trail steepens for a half-mile climb through a severely burnt forest and a small meadow with grand views of Isabella Ridge, reaching a large meadow at 5670 feet. In early summer, the large meadow is a waist-high flower garden of lupine, asters, paintbrush; and many more of the usual suspects in alpine environments.
The 0.4-mile section of trail after the pond contains the steepest sections of the hike, as you climb along a rockslide to get above a cliff band, then steeply descend down the other side before reaching a small campsite and overlook of Copper Glance Lake. Up the hill is a scramble route to two tarns on a bench above the lake. Below is the emerald lake, ringed with golden larch in fall.
Another short descent through a boulder field leads to the edge of the lake, with a very popular sunning rock – probably the reason the trail comes out where it does. A nice campsite is on a bench directly opposite, reachable by a boot trail around the east (outlet) end of the lake. The route to the campsite, passes a “cowboy” camp with a massive firepit before crossing a rockslide to reach the nice one.