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Chelan Lakeshore Trail

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Hike along Washington's dramatic fjord-like Lake Chelan, traversing sun-kissed ledges and blossom-bursting hillsides and weaving through cool forested ravines cut by cascading creeks. Stand high above the sparkling waters of America's third-deepest lake, which catches striking reflections of frosted pointy peaks. Feel rushes of wind funnel down the deep lake-cradling gorge. Listen to aspen leaves rustle, a lone loon cry, waves lap against lakeside ledges, and perhaps a rattling warning.

Mile per mile, this is the most scenic hike radiating from Stehekin, and it's the only trail that embraces the dramatic shoreline of 50-mile-long Lake Chelan. Hot in summer, the Lakeshore Trail makes a wonderful destination in fall and spring-especially the latter, when a mosaic of wildflowers including chocolate lilies, balsamroot, and death camas splash the shoreline ledges and grassy slopes in an array of brilliant colors.

Starting from the Golden West Visitor Center, the trail passes park buildings, an overflow camping area, and a handful of private cabins before settling into a more natural setting. After immediately sampling high-ledge scenery, drop down 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. Be particularly careful while hiking in windy and rainy conditions, as the potential exists for falling snags and landslides.

At 0.75 mile cross Hazard Creek and skirt some more cabins. 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 money has found its way to these shores, with new ostentatious "cabins" sprouting up and clashing with this natural landscape and environmental sensibilities.

At just over 1 mile come to a shoreline ledge granting an excellent view down the lake to Moore Point and Domke Mountain. Continue along the scenic shoreline a short way before once again climbing above and away from it. After passing an old rock wall and compound, cross cottonwood-lined Fourmile Creek on a bridge at 2.5 miles. Drop back to lake level, passing boulders and a big "cabin," and then following cascading Flick Creek into a little chasm.

Leave the creek behind and emerge on a high bluff that grants an excellent view back to Stehekin, with 7161-foot Purple Mountain rising above it. At 3.6 miles pass the Flick Creek campground and shelter, a nice spot for a break. More fine shoreline walking follows, and then start a long ascent.

Cross Hunts Creek in a deep ravine before more climbing, emerging onto a series of ledges before topping out at 1700 feet on Hunts Bluff. Here, 5 miles from Stehekin, is a good turnaround point. Enjoy the spectacular view up the lake to Stehekin and McGregor Mountain and down the lake to Moore Point. This is quite a different Lake Chelan than 40 miles to the south, where jet skis whine in circles and condos ravenously consume the hillsides.
Driving Directions:

Travel north from Wenatchee on US 97A for 38 miles to the Lake Chelan Boat Company in Chelan, located about 1 mile west of the city center. Or drive to Field's Point Landing, located about 17 miles northwest of Chelan via State Route 971 and the South Lakeshore Road. Take the Lady of the Lake to Stehekin. Disembark at Stehekin Landing and walk 0.25 mile to the Golden West Visitor Center. The trail begins just to the right of the center (elev. 1150 ft). Privy available.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 57 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Chelan Lakeshore Trail — Apr 11, 2014 — RossB
Multi-night backpack
Issues: Blowdowns | Washouts
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Got dropped off by boat at Prince Creek and hiked to Stehekin over the weekend. Had great weather th...
Got dropped off by boat at Prince Creek and hiked to Stehekin over the weekend. Had great weather the whole way, a little windy the first night but it calmed down. Plenty of blowdowns over the trail on the uplake half, that made going a little slower. One washout crossing that took some time to negotiate but not bad, trail crews were starting to work as we went through. Also plenty of ticks out and about. Dropped a special watch of mine(black nixon) at the prince creek campsite. It's under one of the picnic tables facing the lake. I can see it in a photo from when we stopped for lunch there, if anyone sees it and snags it and writes me back at rgburgener@gmail.com I would be very grateful. Enjoy the hike!
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Chelan Lakeshore Trail — Jul 06, 2013 — Brittster
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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We spent the 4th of July in Stehekin, the 5th around the Stehekin Valley & did the "bike/breakfast t...
We spent the 4th of July in Stehekin, the 5th around the Stehekin Valley & did the "bike/breakfast tour" which I would highly recommend (breakfast @ the Stehekin Valley Ranch is AWESOME) & then headed out on the Lakeshore trail on July 6. Didn't realize that we were doing the trail "backwards", or at least the opposite direction that most do it. The only thing you need to do if getting picked up at Prince Creek is to notify the ferry captain on your trip uplake that you'll need to be picked up at Prince Creek (it's called a flag stop) so that they can make a note in their log to stop!

Trial was in good shape & quite beautiful. Trail is washed out at Cascade Creek and there is a really steep go-around - I really used my trekking poles for that part! Glad it wasn't wet or it would have been quite slippery. A bit brushy the further South you go & we did see one rattlesnake hear Rattlesnake Creek (duh!). No ticks encountered, however, as warned by the Forest Service. I wore short summer/brush gaiters & am glad I did for all the grass seed & brush. We camped at Moore Creek on Saturday with 2 other parties there (one hiking, one boating group), but the entire trip we only saw 2 other hiking parties! Thought about camping at Cascade creek but decided against it and am glad we didn't - it's not on the water. It was REALLY hot, even with the wind & did better hiking when we left camp early so as not to be out in the blazing afternoon heat.

It was a great getaway & gave us a lot of solitude, even on the holiday weekend. Even ran into some nice boaters tied up at the dock at Prince Creek at the end of our trip who gave us some cold beers!
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Chelan Lakeshore Trail — Jun 30, 2013 — dk
Multi-night backpack
Features: Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns
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Extremely scenic but also extremely hot (temps over 100 degrees). Lots of western exposure, but much...
Extremely scenic but also extremely hot (temps over 100 degrees). Lots of western exposure, but much access to creeks for water. Well maintained trail, only a few small blowdowns. Saw a rattlesnake and bear!
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Chelan Lakeshore Trail — Jun 07, 2013 — dolyn
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Water on trail
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This was my second time backpacking along the Lakeshore Trail at Lake Chelan. I was in a group of 8...
This was my second time backpacking along the Lakeshore Trail at Lake Chelan. I was in a group of 8, including myself, and we drove after work Thursday from Seattle to the Lake Chelan State Park to spend the night near the ferry. In the morning we traveled to Field's Point to catch the Lady of the Lake II. Only half of our group wanted to do the full 17.2 mile hike from Prince Creek to Stehekin so 4 of us got off the ferry at Prince Creek and the other 4 got off the ferry at Moore Point.

The weather was perfect and the lake was amazingly gorgeous! There have definitely been a lot of fires in the area so there isn't much shade from the cloudless sky. We got off the ferry with two other hikers and only saw 2 more hikers while on the trail.

We saw and heard several rattlesnakes, non-dangerous snakes, grouse, pheasant, toads, mice, deer, chipmunks, hawks and a couple spots of bear scat. The trail has lots of ups and downs as it winds up along the side of the lake. The hike from Prince Creek to Moore Point was 11 miles and we spent about 5-5.5 hours hiking at a leisurely pace which included lots of photo taking and short breaks.

The group that went directly to Moore Point spent the day fishing and doing short day hikes in the area. Our entire party was united in the evening and we had Moore Point completely to ourselves. The campground was very nice and had bear boxes to put our food in and a very clean outhouse with toilet paper which we weren't expecting at all.

In the morning the entire group of 8 headed out to hike the remaining 7 miles from Moore Point to Stehekin. Overall, the trail was in much better condition than when I did the hike two years ago. About 3 miles outside of Stehekin the trail was completely blocked by fallen trees but climbing over wasn't too challenging.

Once in Stehekin we got $1.50 beers at the gift shop and sat on the deck waiting for our ferry ride back to Field's Point.
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Chelan Lakeshore Trail — Jun 05, 2013 — Mountain Boy
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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I got off the Lady of the Lake boat around 11am at Prince Creek with 3 others. 1 person was staying ...
I got off the Lady of the Lake boat around 11am at Prince Creek with 3 others. 1 person was staying at the campground there to do some kayaking and the other 2 were going up Prince Creek to the Summit Trail. I quickly lost the trail in the rocks but soon got back on track and found the log bridge across Prince Creek.

It was a little on the warm side but the sun felt good. The elevation gains for this trail in other posts are greatly exaggerated. It is true that you are rarely right by the lake but it is almost always in view and you are never over 300 feet above the lake. The trail has no pointless ups/downs as the direction of the trail always makes sense.

Rattlers - Being my first encounter with Rattlesnakes in the wild, I, myself, was rattled after being rattled at. Twice 2 footers rattled at me in drainages as they got off the path for me. In retrospect, they were quite polite and we didn't want to bother each other. I saw another rattleless small 1 footer by Meadow creek. Seeing the snakes kept me hyper aware of my surroundings the whole time which I find exhilarating. I wished I done some research on their behavior before the trip. I warned a couple leaders of a group of middle school girls who were on their way to Prince Creek CG. (These were the only humans that I saw in ~24 hours on the trail.)

At 11 miles, I got to Moore Point CG and camped their overnight. Nice big CG that I had all to myself. Good outhouse and a bear box.

Got up shortly after 5am to see the sun shining on the Chelan Mtn Range. The temps were more comfortable in the AM and the skies were bluebird. On the trail at 7am for a nice morning 7 mile stroll to Stehekin at 11:30am (plenty of time before the 2pm boat departure).

Overall, I highly recommend this trail as ratio of effort to scenic beauty makes this one of the best overnighters that I've ever done. The trail was in good shape except -
1. Meadow Creek - detour thru the washout is not to standard
2. Brushy in spots - pretty good for most trails but when your looking out for rattlers, it would be nicer to have better visibility around the trail.
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Chelan Lakeshore.jpg
Spring wildflowers are a highlight on the Chelan Lakeshore Trail. Photo by Randy and Sharon.
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Location
Chelan Lakeshore (#1247)
Central Cascades -- Lake Chelan
Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Golden West Visitor Center, Stehekin
Statistics
Roundtrip 10.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1000 ft
Highest Point 1700 ft
Features
Lakes
Fall foliage
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Established campsites
Guidebooks & Maps
100 Classic Hikes in Washington by Ira Spring & Harvey Manning (Mountaineers Books)
Don't Waste Your Time in the North Cascades by Kathy & Craig Copeland (Wilderness Press)
Green Trails Stehekin No. 82

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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