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Hike of the Week for Friday, April 23, 2010

Chelan Lakeshore Trail

Spring has sprung along Washington’s inland fjord

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Lake Chelan
Dramatic scenery along Wahington's
inland fjord, Lake Chelan.

Quick Facts

Location: Central Cascades

Land Agency: National Park Service

Roundtrip: 10.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Green Trails Map: Stehekin, WA- No. 82

Contact: Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, (360) 854-7365, ext 14 Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin; www.nps.gov/noca

Special Note: Accessible only by boat or sea plane. Regular passenger ferry service is available from Chelan and Field’s Point Landing on the Lady of the Lake; dogs permitted on trail on leash. Rattlesnakes common; be alert.

Access: From Wenatchee travel north on US Alt-97 for 38 miles to the Lake Chelan Boat Company in Chelan. Take Lady of the Lake to Stehekin to trailhead (el. 1,150 feet).

Embracing the dramatic shoreline of Lake Chelan, this trail is a Washington state classic. Hot in summer, the Lakeshore Trail is perfect for spring with agreeable temperatures and a mosaic of wildflowers splashing the shoreline ledges and grassy slopes in an array of brilliant colors. The scenery is breathtaking any time of year. Stand high above the sparkling waters of America’s third deepest lake and catch striking reflections of frosted pointy peaks.

Starting from the Golden West Visitor Center the trail passes park buildings and a handful of private cabins before settling into a more natural setting. After immediately sampling high ledge scenery, drop closer to lake level and enter a recent burn zone. The trail undulates between patches of greenery and ghost forests created by the Rex Creek Fire of 2001 and the Flick Creek Fire of 2006.

The trail winds through and around pockets of private property. Many of the structures are simple and blend in well with the surroundings. Unfortunately, new ostentatious “cabins” are sprouting up clashing with this natural landscape and environmental sensibilities.

At just over a mile come to a shoreline ledge granting an excellent view to Moore Point and Domke Mountain. Then begin climbing away from the lake passing an old rock wall and compound. Drop back to lake level following cascading Flick Creek into a little chasm. The trail leaves the creek behind and emerges on a high bluff granting an excellent view back to Stehekin with 7,161-foot Purple Mountain rising above it. At 3.6 miles pass the Flick Creek campground and shelter; a nice spot for a break. Then after more fine shoreline walking, start a long ascent to a series of ledges before topping out at 1,700-feet on Hunt’s Bluff. Here five miles from Stehekin is a good turning around point. Enjoy spectacular views up and down the lake. Quite a different Lake Chelan here than 40 miles to the south where jet skis whine in circles and condos ravenously consume the hillsides.

The Lake Chelan Shoreline Trail is one of the 125 hikes featured in my Day Hiking Central Cascades Book (Mountaineers Books). Check it out!

Green Trails Maps

Washington Online Weather

Day Hiking Central Cascades