Visit Lake Wenatchee and the Surrounding Area

Visit Lake Wenatchee

Lake Wenatchee is located in the Cascade Mountains, not too far east from the summit of Stevens Pass. You can get there from the east or west side of the mountains via Highway 2 and then Highway 207. You can also get there from the east by taking what locals call the Chumstick Highway north out of Leavenworth going through the town of Plain.

Lake Wenatchee is roughly five miles in length which makes for plenty of room for those wanting to go kayaking, fishing, boating, and swimming. The lake is fed on the west end by the Little Wenatchee River and the White River. The lake is drained on the east end by the Wenatchee River which then runs for a little over 50 miles before emptying into the Columbia River. The lake and the surrounding area are popular with locals and those from far away because of the beautiful scenery and the great outdoor recreation. Taking the time to visit Lake Wenatchee and the surrounding area can be a whole lot of fun.

Visit Lake Wenatchee

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Lake Wenatchee State Park is one of the most popular campgrounds in the region. The park is actually split into north shore and south shore facilities, separated by the Wenatchee River. The camping spots are very good sized and there is a lot of tree cover. The park also features a lot of bank right on the lake as well as the river and includes a boat launch, small dock, playground area, camp store, and more. Whether stopping in to play in the water or spending a weekend or more camping, Lake Wenatchee State Park is a fun destination.

Visit Lake Wenatchee

Other Bodies of Water

Lake Wenatchee is the main body of water in the area and offers plenty of room for anyone venturing there. There are other places to go to enjoy the water too though. Fish Lake is located a couple of miles away and is a popular fishing destination with rental boats available. Hidden Lake is located near the west end of the lake on the south shore and is reachable by a short hike that adults and kids will both find easy and enjoyable. The Wenatchee River empties out of Lake Wenatchee and is also popular with anglers, as well as rafters. Other local rivers that attract recreation seekers include the Little Wenatchee, White, and Chiwawa Rivers, as well as Nason Creek. If water recreation is your thing, the Lake Wenatchee area has you covered.

Lake Wenatchee Area Communities

While Lake Wenatchee is located up in the mountains, there are several very small communities or locations that offer services you might want to take advantage of. The Stevens Pass Ski Area at the summit has a variety of restaurants available as well as skiing in the winter and mountain bike activities in the summer. Coles Corner is located at the junction of Highway 2 and 207, the turnoff to Lake Wenatchee, and is home to a restaurant, gas station, and a couple over overnight accommodation options. Right outside Lake Wenatchee State Park there is a small grocery store near the bridge over the Wenatchee River. Continuing down the Chiwawa Loop Road also leads you to Midway Village Grocery where supplies and coffee are available. The small town of Plain is located just east of Lake Wenatchee and it features several small businesses worth paying a visit too. The famous Bavarian community of Leavenworth is located about 25 minutes from Lake Wenatchee and it offers first class accommodations, a long list of restaurants, and plenty of shopping options. When you’re visiting Lake Wenatchee and you need to get back to civilization briefly, there are plenty of options.

Hiking Near Lake Wenatchee

Hiking is very popular in the Lake Wenatchee area and there are trails available that are suitable for all levels of hikers. There are short trails that lead out along the lake right from the state park. There are also longer trails that lead up the local ridges into the thick forests. You can even reach the Pacific Crest Trail, the PCT, in a couple of different spots in the Lake Wenatchee area. Some of the more popular hikes to look into in this part of Washington include Heather Lake, Dirtyface Peak, Alpine Lookout, Merritt Lake, and Nason Ridge. There are also plenty more too, so if hiking is your thing then Lake Wenatchee is your destination.

Other Lake Wenatchee Area Activities

The Lake Wenatchee area is all about outdoor recreation and activities. In addition to all of the hiking options listed above, other activities you can participate in when visiting there include water skiing, boating, fishing, camping, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, horseback riding, ziplining, mountain biking, swimming, rafting, kayaking, four wheeling, and more. The Lake Wenatchee area will have no problem keeping you busy, that’s for sure.

If you’re looking for a great getaway, you can’t go wrong when you visit Lake Wenatchee. Especially if what you’re looking for is beautiful scenery, lots of outdoor recreation, and a friendly and welcoming selection of local communities.

Check Out Trail of the Cedars in Newhalem on the Cascade Loop

Trail of the Cedars - Newhalem

The Cascade Loop is one of the most popular scenic road trips you can take in the Pacific Northwest. The rout takes you over the Cascade Mountains via Stevens Pass in the south and Washington and Rainy passes in the north. On the west side of Washington Pass, near the head of the Skagit Valley, is the historic town of Newhalem. Newhalem is a fun stop on the Cascade Loop for a number of reasons. One of the great things to do when you stop there is to check out the Trail of the Cedars.

Trail of the Cedars - Newhalem

The Trail of the Cedars starts with a suspension bridge over the Skagit River. The Skagit River this far up the valley is a beautiful turquoise and something you’ll want to capture on your camera. Stop in the middle of the bridge and enjoy the view up and down the river. This is the kind of scenery you’ll want to remember.

After crossing the river, you’re greeted with a trail through a scenic and untouched forest on the way to a small powerhouse. It winds through some of the tallest trees in the region. Stop and take the time to read the informative signs too that tell stories about the history of the area as well as the forest itself. There’s also some great photo opportunities where you can show off the size of the trees you’ll be walking right by.

Trail of the Cedars - Newhalem

The Cascade Loop is a fun road trip indeed. Take this trip again and again because there are way more attractions to see and things to do than you can usually fit in during just one visit. One of those places to stop is Newhalem and when you’re there make sure you check out the Trail of the Cedars.

Trail of the Cedars - Newhalem

Roadside Stop: Clear Creek Falls Overlook Near White Pass

Clear Creek Falls Overlook

Located just on the east side of White Pass, Clear Creek Falls is on, naturally, Clear Creek. This creek flows to the east down the dry side of the Cascade Mountains into Clear Lake. The water from there takes a short trip further down the canyon before emptying into the very popular Rimrock Lake. Higher up though, far above that, is the Clear Creek Falls Overlook.

The overlook consists of a small parking lot, a restroom, and a short trail that provides a number of different overlooks at the falls.

Clear Creek Falls Overlook

Whether heading west towards Packwood or Mt. Rainier, or east towards Yakima and Eastern Washington, this can be a nice little place to stop and have a small picnic, take a stroll and see the falls, and enjoy the view down into a large canyon that opens up towards the Rimrock Lake area.

Clear Creek Falls Overlook

Depending on how long your trip is, the Clear Creek Falls Overlook can be a welcome sight to see. Even if not though, it’s worth the time to stop and take in the fresh air while seeing what can, especially early in the year, be a pretty impressive waterfall.

Visit Lake Wenatchee in the Cascade Mountains

Lake Wen 2

Lake Wenatchee sits high in the Cascade Mountains, in between the community of Leavenworth and the Stevens Pass Summit, just five miles off of Highway 2. This is another of the many fun places in Washington’s Cascade Mountains that are enjoyable all year long.

The easiest way to access the lake is at Lake Wenatchee State Park. Here, you will find parking and a large beach area, in addition to a camp store, play toys, boat dock, and a large campground. The water is cold and clear, having just drained down to the lake from the melting snow in the surrounding mountains. One of the top draws to the lake for us is of course the water. I like to bust out the kayak and make the quick trip from the wide open beach area to a small island that sits just offshore. After some time exploring the island, I can easily cruise right on up the north shore of the lake and return to the beach over open water.

Other ways to enjoy the water include boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing, and more. The water exits the lake at the start of the Wenatchee River and this first stretch is popular with rafters and kayakers too. It usually is not too hard to find a place to rent any water equipment you might need.

In addition to the campsites, there are lots of picnic spots at the state park too. Driving the highway around the north side of the lake is a fun way to extend the road trip a little further. If you have a good map, you can even find a forest service road that will take you from the west end of Lake Wenatchee, up and over the mountain range to the south, and out on Highway 2, just a few miles east of the Stevens Pass summit.

A visit to Lake Wenatchee is a great idea, both as a destination for spending the night as well as just a stop before continuing east or west across the Cascade Mountains.

Lake Wen 1

Ski Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass
If you’ve traveled across the Cascade Mountains on Highway 2, you’ve passed right beneath the Stevens Pass Ski Area. This amazing ski area sits right on the crest of the Cascades and receives an abundance of snow. If it’s dumping snow in the mountains, you can be sure its dumping at Stevens Pass.

The ski area has lots of great runs to take advantage of and in recent years has really gone above and beyond in its efforts to add a terrain park featuring some of the best and biggest jumps in the state of Washington.

I went to Stevens Pass recently during the warmer months, which some people might not understand. What is just becoming more and more known though is that Stevens Pass, after the snow melts, has transformed its once dormant summer season into a haven for mountain bike enthusiasts. There are a few great trails to check out, along with some wonderful obstacles and park features as well. If you’re feeling a little weak in the knees, you can even avoid the hard climb up the mountain and take your bike up to the top on a chair lift ride and then just ride back down.

Another part of the summer offerings at Stevens Pass is a disc golf course which is great fun. Combine that with the restaurant and snack bar offerings and you have yourself all you need for a fun day away from the city.

A road trip across the mountains can be a lot more fun with a stop off at Stevens Pass, no matter what time of year it is.

A Visit To Wellington, Washington – Great For Railroad Buffs!

Stevens Pass was again the site of a quick road trip recently.

Located just off Highway 2 is the former town site of Wellington, Washington. This tiny spot, once a small railroad community, is situated near the east entrance to the original Cascade Tunnel that ran beneath Stevens Pass. The community was found in 1893 and was an instrumental location for the early railroad days in the region. It is more famous today though as the site of the March 1, 1910 Wellington avalanche, the worst avalanche in United States history.

You can reach Wellington by taking the first road on the west side of the summit of the pass, right across the highway from the entrance to the ski area’s lower parking lot. That road is known as either the Tye Scenic Road or the Old Cascade Highway, depending on who you talk to.

Roadtrip to Wellington Map
Roadtrip to Wellington Map – Click to Enlarge

After reaching the parking lot, we went to the left first, or headed east, for the chance to view the western entrance of the original railroad tunnel. This structure looks great. The trail leads to a nice viewing area and has some good information on historical markers along the way. There are also some old foundations from various railroad related structures still visible too. Water flows at a pretty good rate out of the tunnel mouth now and it is well marked as too dangerous to enter. Still, seeing it from the outside is very cool.

NWSnowshed4

After this viewing opportunity, we returned to the parking lot and continued on the same path, this time to the west. Down this path, past a small meadow, is the entrance to the old snowshed. Early in the season, water flows down the mountain near the mouth of the snowshed at a pretty good rate. We were there late in the summer and there was very little water running. This is also one of the entry points to popular Iron Goat Trail that goes through the area.

NWSnowshed5

The snowshed has aged some since it was built in the years following the 1910 avalanche. It was dark inside and if you look past the small amount of graffiti, it’s very impressive to see such a huge structure that was built so long ago. This is a great piece of history that I and my kids both enjoyed being able to walk through.

NWSnowshed2

About halfway through the snowshed, there is a pathway that leads to a observation deck that overlooks the forest. Reading the markers there tells you that what you are actually looking out at is the avalanche field where rail cars and occupants were moved down the mountain with the flowing snow and debris. There is quite a bit of good historical information on the markers there.

NWSnowshed7

Continuing on down the path through the snowshed makes you feel more and more isolated. It’s a very interesting experience. By the time we reached the end, it was nice to see some open sky. The point where the trail leaves the snowshed is interesting in its own way. Here you will see a portion of the snowshed going through a slow collapse. Even my son said that the suspended chunks of concrete in the twisted rebar had an almost artwork look to them.

NWSnowshed10

From here, you can continue on down the Iron Goat Trail to a couple of different exit points. We went a short distance down the trail and then turned around and returned through the snowshed and back to the parking lot. On the way back, one feature that was very interesting was the leftover evidence of railroad tracks inside the snowshed. There are no rails left there but there are plenty of railroad ties, most of them in some sort of decay.

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The 1910 Wellington Avalanche was responsible for the deaths of 96 people, some of them passengers on the train and some railroad workers who had been working to clear the tracks of snow. The avalanche and the massive death toll made the newspapers across the country. Later that year, the community of Wellington was renamed Tye, after the local Tye River, in an effort to distance itself from the memory of the tragedy. The depot that the community was centered around closed in the late 1920s with the opening of the second Cascade Tunnel which exited the mountain further to the west.

Even though we had been there before, we had a great time at Wellington again. The combination of history and nature is perfect. It’s a great destination for a road trip and also works nice for a stop on US 2 if you’re on the way to somewhere else.

Check Out The Great Northern & Cascade Railway In Skykomish

skykomish station

While driving on US 2, west of Stevens Pass, I got lucky and found a nice little attraction in the little town of Skykomish.

Skykomish is the last community you pass by when you travel eastbound over Stevens Pass. Or, I guess, it could be the first community on the west side that you reach when heading over Stevens Pass from Eastern Washington. Regardless, it’s a cute little town and definitely worth a quick pull off from the highway.

Skykomish has some nice ties to the railroad and logging industries, and though I’d stopped there before, what caught my attention this time was some small signs along the highway promoting “Free Train Rides”.

Having kids in the car with me on this trip, I decided this was worth some investigation. Truth be told, we were about due for a snack anyway. As we crossed the Skykomish River, we saw that the signs led to the small historic train depot in the center of town. We pulled into the parking lot just in time to see the train leave the station. The train in question that day was a miniature narrow gauge train run by an engineer and ferrying children, some “disguised” as adults, around on a fairly good sized track. We’d just found the Great Northern & Cascade Railway.

miniature train

The train passes over a bridge, goes through a tunnel, and passes by several full size rail cars and railroad equipment. Needless to say, the kids had an excellent time.

The town’s historic depot, dating back to 1898, contains some interesting things to see too. Restoring the depot and bringing the railroad history to visitors and locals is a big project and you can support that project by purchasing some of the shirts, books, and other souvenirs found inside. There are also other things to see there including a historic train bell waiting for you to ring it, replica train cars and engines done to scale, and more.

replica train

The Great Northern & Cascade Railway is located at 101 North 5th Street in Skykomish, Washington. The facility is open Saturday and Sunday from the end of May to the end of October. It’s great for a quick stop, especially if you are traveling with kids or have an interest in history. Plus, you can’t pass up the feeling you get supporting small community projects like this.

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GNCRailway