At A Glance
TRAIL LENGTH: .5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 27 feet
HIGH POINT: 4,076'
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Summer or Fall
POPULARITY: Lightly used
GOOD FOR: kids, beginner hikers, bikes, leashed dogs
WATCH FOR: road conditions, no cell reception
FEES & PERMITS: Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass
NEAREST RANGER: Naches Ranger District Office
COORDINATES: N46° 46.150' W121° 20.952'
LOCATION: In Yakima County, near Mount Rainier National Park, in the Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest.
HIGHLIGHTS: Building and mill ruins
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE: Copper City was the center of mining activity in Yakima County from about 1907 to 1942.
FROM HIGHWAY 410:
- Turn south onto Bumping River Rd / NF-1800. Follow for about 20 miles.
- Park in the pullout on right side of road.
FROM THE PARKING AREA:
- Walk the old road-turned-trail past the Copper City sign, about .14 miles.
- Enter a large hillside field. On the left is the collapsed hotel/bunkhouse
- Walk northwest across the field to reach the dugout area where another building once stood.
- Head southwest to the upper remains of the mill.
- Walk southeast along the edge of the mill ruins to reach the lower end.
- Head back toward the bunkhouse and walk around the building.
THINGS TO SEE:
- Copper City sign
- Foundation dugout
- Mill upper end
- Mill lower end
Researching primary materials is just as exciting as finding the actual places where the history took place, but it's a slow and challenging process. Exploring History in Your Hiking Boots will be including gems below as we find them.
The History of Copper City
Once the center of mining activity in Yakima County, Copper City served 42 active mining claims during the period from 1907 to 1942. The first mine claim near Copper City was filed by James T “Cap” Simmons in 1889. Many other claims soon followed. A man named Reuben Root eventually bought the claim at Copper City and he is credited with sparking and maintaining investment interest in the area. By 1906 many claims in the area had been consolidated into the Copper Mining Company group.
By 1910 Copper City had cabins, a bunkhouse, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, and an ore mill. An elaborate water system provided the cabins with running water and newly installed telephone lines allowed communication with the outside world. The ore mill at Copper City separated rock that contained precious metals from non-valuable “country rock”. The resulting concentrated ore was then transported by horse and cart to a railroad line which in turn transported it to a smelter in Tacoma. The smelter completed the process of extracting the precious metals from the ore.
In 1917 the US Bureau of mines reported that the Copper Mining Company had shipped five tons of ore to the smelter. This ore contained 170 ounces of silver and 1,486 pounds of copper. When plans were made to run a rail line directly to Copper City, the town’s founders hoped the increased accessibility would cause a boom. Much to their disappointment the tracks were never put down. In the end the mines around Copper City never produced the riches that were expected. In 1948 all of the machinery in the town was moved to more profitable mining areas.
To reach Copper City you will walk the old mine-to-market road into town. On your left you will see the mostly-collapsed remains of the bunkhouse, and a little farther on you will encounter the remnants of the old ore mill.