Wenatchee National Forest
The Leavenworth Ranger District has many miles of trails and roads providing spectacular views of granite and snow-covered mountain peaks, dense forest, trickling streams and rushing rivers.
But hang on -- it can be a bumpy ride. Many Forest Service roads are not maintained to a standard suitable for most passenger vehicles, so watch out for occasional rocks in the road, rough roadway, and drainage ditches. To travel some of the more remote forest roads discussed, you'll need a Wenatchee National Forest map or a Leavenworth District map. Pick one up at the ranger station. During your stop you can ask about the latest road conditions. Washouts do happen.
Approximately 160,000 acres or 40 percent of the forest land on the district is in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which contains only trails. The remainder of the forest could be roughly separated into five areas that can be explored by car. . .
As US Highway 2 runs westward from Leavenworth toward Stevens Pass, it follows the old Great Northern Railway route along the Wenatchee River. The steep rock walls on either side of the highway, the whitewater rapids too dangerous for even the most expert kayakers or rafters, and the foliage (even more spectacular in the autumn) all contribute to the breathtaking beauty of Tumwater Canyon.
Visitors can stop for a picnic, a swim, or to fish at several places along the highway. The Swiftwater picnic area, about eight miles west of Leavenworth, has easy access to the river, restrooms, and a short hiking trail leading to a rock overhang once used by Native Americans.
A little further west of Tumwater Canyon along Highway 2 is the district's largest developed facility, Tumwater Campground. Across the highway and a bit west of the campground are two Forest Service roads, Hatchery and Chiwaukum Creek, which lead to trailheads accessing the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Probably the most popular drive on the Leavenworth Ranger District, the 20-mile-long Icicle Road ascends another beautiful, narrow canyon to the boundary of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The canyon, carved by glaciers and the cold waters of the Icicle River, offers picturesque views of rock outcrops, jagged peaks and the rushing, boulder-strewn river. Seven campgrounds and numerous trailheads may be found along the road, which is paved as far as Ida Creek Campground (about 14 miles from town).
When visiting the Icicle, remember that the land in the valley has a"checkerboard ownership" pattern. Every other section is national forest land; the alternating privately-owned sections are not open for public use. Small signs on the north side of the road help to distinguish between public and private land. Beyond Chatter Creek Guard Station, the remainder of Icicle Road is on /national forest land.
The Chumstick Road, State Highway 209, runs north of Leavenworth through rolling hills, past picturesque cabins and farms, to the community of Plain. Several unpaved Forest Service roads leading from 209 take the visitor through dense groves of fir and pine as well as more open terrain.
The Entiat Ridge Road #5200 leads to the old lookout on Sugarloaf Peak and a breathtaking view that stretches for miles in all directions. The lookout. Chumstick Mountain, and other scenic points of interest can be reached from Eagle Creek Road, Merry Canyon, or Second Creek Road, Derby Canyon, Nahahum Canyon near Cashmere, and other roads.
US Highway 97, leading south from Highway 2 at Peshastin, rises to 4,000 feet at Blewett (Swauk) Pass before descending to Cle Elum and Interstate 90. The Leavenworth Ranger District maintains two campgrounds near the summit, as well as the Tronsen Meadows cross-country ski area in winter.
In 1869, the first gold discovery in North Central Washington was made on Peshastin Creek. The mining town of Blewett, complete with stamp mill, thrived until after the turn of the century. A few remnants of the area's rich mining history can still be seen at a roadside viewpoint alongside the highway.
Scotty Creek Road and Camas Creek Road are two of several USFS roads which branch off from the Blewett Pass Highway. Winding past miles of timber and meadows, some of which offer views of grazing elk and deer, these roads are suitable for passenger cars. The North Shaser Road, leading across Iron Mountain to Upper Negro Creek, is closed to four-wheel vehicles but excellent riding for mountain bikes or ORVs.
The Ingalls Creek trailhead is a few hundred yards off the highway, at the Valley Hi development. Ingalls Creek Trail is an easy hike, following the valley bottom for eleven miles before ascending to the Stuart Range. Spring wildflowers are abundant along this trail.
After seven miles of pavement, the Mission Creek Road in Cashmere turns to dirt and leaves private homes behind. The road continues south and east through the forest until it meets the Squilchuck Road near Mission Ridge Ski Area south of Wenatchee. the upper Number Two Canyon Road from Wenatchee also leads to the Mission Creek Road.
Devil's Gulch and Red Hill off Mission Creek Road are popular early-season trails where snow melts sooner than on most of the rest of the district. This trail system provides popular hiking, mountain bike and motorcycle routes for early season use.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication