The last weekend of September several of us were at the Washington State Nurses Association Leadership Conference in Lake Chelan, WA. Conferences of this type, any nursing conference for that matter, seems to keep attendees busy from morning until late evening, but I was hopeful that I could get a hike or two in. Besides, there is food galore at these things and a lot of time spent sitting on your butt. Julie & I searched the fabulous Washington Trails Association website and other places on line and in some hiking books and came up with a plan to to the Chelan Butte trail on Sunday morning. We were up bright and early, directions in hand, with the intent to hike this 5 mile trail and be back in plenty of time to get ready for the days conference events. The day was shaping up to be a nice, sunny day and we decided to do the Chelan Butte hike. The book, "Day Hiking Central Cascades" gave great directions, however we found it difficult to find the "forested gully" where we were supposed to park and begin our walk up the service road. There was lots of "gully", but not so much "forest". Once we came to the sign that said "Northwest Forest Pass Required", we figured that we were close. However, continuing to follow the very bumpy, washed out gravel road we ended up at the top, so we parked and walked around a bit. The views were amazing over both sides, with Lake Chelan to one side and the river and farmlands to the other. It was quite windy, and therefore dusty, up there.
|Lake Chelan from Chelan Butte|
Apparently it's a spot for hang gliders to launch from, although we didn't see any. Although the views were amazing,it wasn't really my favorite kind of place to hike. I think vehicles with low clearance would have a difficult drive over parts of this service road. There were deep washouts and large rocks jutting up from the roadway. I worried a bit about my oil pan and driving off the cliff! I was glad to see a turn around spot at the top because I REALLY didn't want to back down the entire service road. I was saddened to see the amount of litter up there, too. Friends that were also at the conference said they've found a way to hike up to the Butte without having to utilize the service road, however we didn't have time to check those trails out, maybe another time. I think Spring would be the best season for this hike.
So, we got back to our room and decided to take a different approach; we'd just walk the Chelan Riverfront trail instead. This approximately 1 mile loop follows the beautiful Chelan River as it leaves Lake Chelan. The water is crystal clear and we saw many ducks and geese along the way. Once we got onto this path and just before crossing over the bridge to head back to Campbells Resort , we found signs for the REACH 1 trail. Not sure where it lead or how long it was, we followed it. It lead us along some neighborhood sidewalks, through some older parts of town and eventually to a new parking lot with great interpretative signs. I perused the signs and determined that it would be approximately 5 miles round trip, and that we would get us back to our conference with plenty of time to shower and get prepared. We hit the paved trail which eventually became gravel and wound it's way down through what appeared to be a recently burned area. There are benches with more signs along the way. Once down at the level of the river, we could see Chelan Butte from where we were. Along the way, we could see many remnants of burned out items such as cars, refrigerators and old metal Coleman coolers. I wonder why this wasn't cleaned up when this trail was built? Isn't that the kind of work that prisoners should do?
|View from the REACH 1 trail, jut below Chelan Dam|
|A great spot for dunking ones shirt|
It was a nice hike with lots of good ecological info on the interpretive signs. I enjoyed it, but I think I'm just fond of the green, wet side of the state. Dusty desert doesn't interest me, but the river and lake views are beautiful. This little hike was much nicer than the Chelan Butte adventure.
|Can't beat the view from our room.|