Commonly Backpacked · Views · Wildflowers
Need to Know
The trail is faint in some places and non-existent in others. Look for cairns if you lose the trail, and, generally, keep following the ridgeline. Much of this trail is exposed and above treeline; be sure to hike early in the summer to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
The Blue Ridge Trail climbs from its southern trailhead up to an exposed, above-treeline ridgeline that offers panoramic views of the Never Summers. The climb when hiking from south to north is mostly gradually with a few steep, rocky sections. Once you climb above treeline, you'll enjoy views of Bowen Lake, Ruby Lake, and Bowen Mountain to the east. To the west, you can see Parkview Mountain and to the northwest, the high mountain plains stretching from Rand to Walden.
Once you gain the ridgeline, the trail itself is a narrow singletrack that follow along or just below the ridgeline. The ridge is mostly grassy with a few rocks so the footing is easy, and the views are spectacular. The trail skirts to the west of Cascade Mountain (12,291 ft.) and you can do a little off-trail route-finding if you want to gain the summit. To the east, you'll be looking back down the Bowen Gulch drainage, which perhaps you climbed earlier on the Bowen Gulch Trail #119
From Cascade Mountain, the trail disappears briefly, but you can find your way by looking for the large cairns to climb down and then up to the summit of Ruby Mountain (12,008 feet). Again the trail skirts to the west of the true summit, but with a short, rocky scramble, you can reach the peak for some more impressive views.
From Ruby Mountain, the trail descends steeply on a rocky and loose slope to a saddle. Again the trail is a bit vague, but keep your eyes up across the saddle, and you should be able to spot where the ribbon of singletrack picks up again. This final section of trail contours around the backside of the ridge. While faint in spots, you can usually pick out where to go. There are a few steep, loose sections where you'll want to watch your footing.
The trail eventually descends a steep and rocky ridge to Bowen Pass, a saddle where you'll meet up with the Bowen Pass Trail #1136
and the continuation of the CDT.
Shared By: Kristen McGlynn