Location: Mission Ridge, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Land Agency: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Roundtrip: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Green Trails Map: Green Trails Wenatchee/ Mission Ridge, WA- No 211S
Access: Follow US 2 to Wenatchee turning south onto SR 285 and continuing for 4.5 miles until it turns east to cross the Columbia River into East Wenatchee. Do not cross bridge; continue straight on Mission Street which becomes Squilchuck Road. Continue for 11.8 miles to road’s end at Mission Ridge Ski Area. Trailhead is located near entrance to ski area parking lot.
Contact: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Good to Know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, snowshoe
These two little larch lined lakes tucked within basaltic slopes high on Mission Ridge make for an excellent snowshoeing adventure. With easy access to the trailhead, a signed trail and avalanche free route, Clara and Marion Lakes are a perfect destination for beginning snowshoers.
Follow the Squilchuck Trail uphill into a mature forest of Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine. Squilchuck is derived from the Chinook jargon meaning “muddy waters.” But from December until well into May you probably won’t see any muddy waters along this route.
At 0.4 miles after a fairly steep start, come to a junction with the Pipeline Trail, also a popular snowshoe route. Continue straight ascending through thick cool forest. There are plenty of impressive big larches along the way warranting a return trip in October when they paint the ridge gold. At .9 mile the grade eases near a crossing of Lake Creek. A short distance farther, reach a signed junction. The trail left leads to the little lakes; take it.
Immediately enter a beautiful little basin (el. 5,400 feet) flanked by giant larches and basaltic spires, sculptures and pyramids—and little Clara Lake looking more like a frozen meadow this time of the year. Continue over a slight rise to reach tiny Marion Lake. Set within equally pretty surroundings, enjoy the peace and quiet. Just over the ridge is the bustling Mission Ridge Ski Area. You’d never know it from where you are tucked in a pocket wilderness feeling miles removed from civilization.
For more information on this hike and many others in the Wenatchee-Leavenworth area, pick up a copy of my Day Hiking Central Cascades.
For information on where to stay and other things to do in the area, consult Northwest TripFinder.