Tucked deep in the rolling hills of the North Cascade mountains is a short, delightful trail – perfect for a day hike if you happen to be in the Stehekin area. Otherwise, it’s at least a day’s journey to even get to the trailhead. Agnes Gorge offers views of snow-capped peaks, a traverse along one side of a plunging gorge, and a beautiful riverfront view as your destination.
To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to catch the bus from the ferry landing at the north end of Lake Chelan. The bus schedule is posted on the ferry and in Chelan, and it is available in the convenience store at the landing as well. The bus costs $7 per adult to get to the trailhead at High Bridge, and along the way it stops at the legendary Bakery, 342-foot tall Rainbow Falls, and the Stehekin Valley Ranch before arriving at the High Bridge Ranger Station, which is a park housing facility.
From High Bridge, cross the bridge, noting the mighty Stehekin River flowing beneath you. Its remarkable opaque blue color is from glacial silt far upstream. Just over the bridge, pass the trailhead for Agnes Creek (a turn down this would make for a many miles long trek on the PCT) and turn left onto the well-marked Agnes Gorge Trail. The trail plunges into cool forest, and after a quarter-mile opens into a hillside traverse, where you’ll get your first look into Agnes Gorge. This hillside traverse continues for about a mile, crossing into the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest 1.25 miles from the trailhead. A creek crossing toward the beginning of the trail may be tricky in springtime or times of high water.
WTA has improved the trail here, building the trail up at its end and making it more sustainable. Drainages were installed as well as a rock wall to reinforce a switchback and rock steps to make the tread safer.
But before you get to see our handiwork, you’ll take in some of nature’s finest views. Enjoy views of 8,115 foot Agnes Mountain standing guard over the impressive gorge. If you’re hiking late in the season, huckleberries line the slopes to the north here – remember that bears live in the Stehekin valley and you may see some munching away, getting ready for winter. Give them space and let them know you’re around by talking or singing; it’s likely they won’t bother you.
After just 2.5 miles, arrive at the end of the trail. It descends to the water here, where you may be able to shed your shoes and socks and cool off your feet, depending on the water level. Relax and listen to powerful Agnes Creek crashing by before returning back the way you came.
WTA Pro Tip: Note the time of the last shuttle back to the landing, and be sure to be waiting at High Bridge when it arrives. If you prefer to not be on a bus schedule, consider staying at nearby High Bridge camp – make arrangements to do so with rangers at the Golden West Visitor Center, located just up the hill from the landing.
- 5.5 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 300 feet
- Highest Point
- 2,000 feet
Hiking Agnes Gorge
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 48.3807, -120.8403 Open in Google Maps