Sage Hills—Sage advice for a great spring hike

Enjoy wide open country on the outskirts of Wenatchee

Enjoy wide open country on the outskirts of Wenatchee

Quick Facts

Location: Wenatchee Foothills

Land Agency: Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, Chelan PUD

Contact: Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (509) 667-9708; www.cdlandtrust.org

Roundtrip: 5.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Green Trails Map: Wenatchee/ Mission Ridge, WA- No 211S

Access: Follow US 2 to Wenatchee turning south onto SR 285 (Wenatchee Ave.). After 2.0 miles turn right onto Miller Street and continue for .8 mile. Turn right onto 5th St and continue west for 1.8 miles to where Fifth angles left becoming Number One Canyon Road. Proceed for another .4 mile to trail parking (signed) on right at junction with Sage Hills Drive. Do not park on Sage Hills Drive.

Notes: Dogs must be leashed; check for seasonal wildlife closures typically Dec 1 to Mar 1 in order to protect wintering mule deer.

Hike across rolling golden hills wedged between the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River. Embrace views of the mightiest river in the west, pine topped knolls, cliff faced buttes, and deep gulches where the deer and coyote play. Stark most of the year, the hills are alive with brilliant colors and emanating the sweet scent of sage in spring. Just minutes from bustling downtown Wenatchee, the Sage Hills are an important ecological buffer zone.

Start by walking up Sage Hills Drive bearing right and coming to the trailhead for Lester’s Trail in .25 mile. The Sage Hills Trail System has been developed and maintained through a wide consortium of people and organizations including the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, Chelan County PUD and private citizens like the Lester family.

Skirting a housing development and power line corridor, the trail runs along the demarcation line between urban and wild. Pressures are mounting in this rapidly growing area to consume more of this land for development. Spearheaded by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, the Sage Hills are part of the larger Wenatchee Foothills Project to protect these threatened lands and keep them open for recreation.

Wind through an open country of golden grasses and fragrant sage brush. The trail climbs and dips contouring rolling hills. After a long ascent via gentle switchbacks reach Five Trail Saddle, about 1.5 miles from the trailhead. This is a good spot for turning around if you’ve had enough. But, if you’re not done exploring, take the trail veering left. Soon come to a junction. Veer right here, you’ll be returning on the trail to your left. After dipping slightly into a draw, the trail heads upward to intersect a trail and old road at 2.5 miles on a ridge (el. 1,650 feet). Views are excellent here of Burch Mountain to the north, Badger Mountain to the east and the Sage Hills and Saddle Rock south. Return by following the trail left (don’t follow trail under power line straight) climbing quickly to intersect another trail. Then follow this trail left for approximately .8 mile back to a familiar junction at Five Trail Saddle and the way back to your vehicle. More trails and options exist for future visits.

For more information on this hike and others in the Wenatchee area, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades Book.

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