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Trip Report

Chelan Lakeshore Trail — Saturday, May. 21, 2022

Central Cascades

WOW what a hike!!! This trail has everything you could possibly want in a backpacking trip, so much so that our group of 4 decided we will do it annually! I will say, it was more difficult than we were expecting and that seems to be the consensus from reading other reports. Just expect a decent amount of up and down, but nothing too challenging! No snake or tick sightings, but plenty of lizards and birds! A few downed trees to cross over or under; thanks WTA for clearing this trail for the most part!!!

Our trip began by car camping at the Lake Chelan State Park campground on Friday night in the rain. It's a really nice campground, and if you're coming from Seattle, allows you to roll out of bed to catch the ferry instead of leaving at 3:30AM. We got the Lady of the Lake express ferry in Chelan. You must check in inside the building and get a parking pass to put on the dashboard of your car. There is a bathroom at the ferry dock and two on the ferry itself along with a snack bar with hot and cold beverages (yay for a warm cup of tea on a chilly ferry!). You are not allowed to keep your backpack with you on the ferry but if you are one of the last to board your pack will be more accessible-they are laid in a giant pile at the back of the ferry.

The beauty of this trail hits you immediately upon arrival at the Prince Creek campground. Wildflowers abound and never stop until you get to Stehekin. The trail was a little crowded for the first mile and a half and everyone was leapfrogging but eventually it thinned a bit and felt more peaceful. My group aimed to camp at Moore Point roughly 10.5 miles into the trail (11 if you count the half mile spur to the campground). The Meadow Creek shelter made for a great lunch & rest spot. 

Moore Point is a wonderful campground, and it's HUGE! I was nervous about getting a site but we were the second group to arrive around 3:30pm. I'd guess there were about 15 tents set up by the end of the evening. There is a bear box, a shelter, several picnic tables and fire rings, and an outhouse in great shape. When we arrived, it was stocked with 1 and a half rolls of TP, whittled down to a half roll by the time we left Sunday morning.  It was rainy and chilly off and on during our time at camp, so our dreams of soaking in the sun on the docks were dashed. Despite this, mosquitos were annoying enough that we all wore head nets. So sad the report that they are already out! We watched a beautiful sunset and went to bed.

We woke to watch sunrise around 5AM but didn't get much color with clear skies. Most of the camp was up by 6:30 as many people were on the early ferry. We were the third group to leave and didn't encounter many groups on the second day until arriving in Stehekin. The sun felt AMAZING after breaking camp in the cold morning shade and never went away. Bring lots of sunscreen, this trail is very exposed for long stretches of time. The birds serenaded us as the miles went by, moments I wish could have lasted far longer. 

Soon enough the glorious time on the Lakeshore trail ended as we saw the first buildings of Stehekin. Pass by the Purple Point overflow campground and you'll arrive in town shortly, most likely to the most special greeting from Mary, whose job it is to welcome hikers to town and make sure they get on their ferries in time and enjoy every precious moment in Stehekin. My favorite quote of hers was something like "Take in every moment, it won't last forever." Everyone leaves their backpacks around the ferry dock or general store while exploring the town. We rented bikes (best decision ever!!! felt like biking through Switzerland) and did the ~15 minute ride to the famous bakery, and again, WOW doesn't begin to cover it! It was very well stocked around lunchtime, complete with vegan and gluten free options! Hikers and visitors sprawl out on the welcoming grass, basking in the sun and eating their mouth-watering treats. Many expletives were said by all in my group when we took our first bites; the food is tastier than you can imagine. We reluctantly headed back to return our bikes and bought beers from the general store to cheers to the perfect trip. Made a quick lunch, soaked our feet in the frigid waters (swimming would not have been wise haha) and boarded the ferry for the long journey home, full of great food and even better memories. Highly recommend taking the 2pm ferry to have more time in Stehekin. Once you arrive, I promise you won't want to leave on that early ferry, even if it means getting home late! Many people slept on the return journey.

Our journey ended with a feast at the Wenatchee Taco Bell where we reminisced and made plans for next year's return trip. If this one has been on your list for a while like me, do yourself a favor and book those ferry tickets ASAP to experience this for yourself!!! Your only regret will be not doing it sooner :)