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Chelan Lakeshore Trail

Central Cascades

Location

Central Cascades -- Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan
View map below

Length

17.0 miles, one-way

Elevation

Gain: 4030 ft.
Highest Point: 1700 ft.

Rating

3.94 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2019
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

Looking for an early-season backpack featuring craggy, snow-capped peaks, a sapphire-blue lake, wildflowers, and a trail that’s regularly maintained by WTA volunteers? The 17-mile thru-hike on the Chelan Lakeshore Trail might be just the thing for you.

The adventure begins by boarding the Lady of the Lake ferry, either in Chelan or from Field’s Point. This ferry is the main way that most folks reach the small town of Stehekin, which is your destination on this trail. There are no roads leading to this tiny mountain hamlet, so your options are to hike, boat or fly in. The Lakeshore Trail is one of the most scenic ways to get there, if you’ve got a tent and a couple of days to spend taking in the sights along the nation’s third-deepest lake.

When you buy tickets for the ferry, be sure to let the crew know that you need to be dropped off at Prince Creek, a stop along the east edge of the lake where backpackers and campers disembark. There is a campground at Prince Creek, but it’s unlikely that you’ll want to camp there on day one — the ferry will drop you off in the late morning, giving you plenty of time to get a good start hiking.

From Prince Creek, head up the trail and in less than a quarter-mile reach a junction with the Prince Creek Trail, switchbacking uphill to your right. Lucky for you, the Lakeshore Trail rolls out ahead of you, on a much more forgiving grade. Take that one.

About a mile from the Prince Creek stop, cross Rattlesnake Creek, a seasonal stream. The Lakeshore Trail can be dry and hot late in the season. Bring plenty of water, and keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, who like to sun themselves on the exposed trail.

Past Rattlesnake Creek, the next camp is at Cascade Creek, a more reliable water source. This section of trail skirts the edge of the lake, crossing Rex and Pioneer Creeks along the way. Look for Domke Falls across the lake, the outlet of Domke Lake, another beautiful lake tucked behind the ridge on the other side of Lake Chelan.

Meadow Creek Shelter is the next established rest area, 6.4 miles from Rattlesnake Creek and 7.6 miles from your drop off at Prince Creek. The trail has moved upslope and away from the lake a bit, but its glittering waters are still visible below, and if you’re visiting in spring, you'll see arrowleaf balsamroot, lupine, and wild rose. It’s another 3.5 miles to the next large camping area: Moore Point. There, you can swim in those glittering waters after a hot day of hiking.

Three miles from Meadow Creek Shelter, reach a junction in the trail. Turn left to head down to Moore Point. Like Prince Creek, Moore Point is another dropoff point for backpackers on the Lady of the Lake. If you want to do an abbreviated version of the Lakeshore Trail, consider asking to be dropped here. It makes the hike into Stehekin only seven miles long — a scenic way to get there in one day with a little exercise. It’s also one of the base camps for WTA’s annual volunteer vacations along the Lakeshore Trail. Since 2006, WTA crews have logged this trail out each spring, helping keep this early season trail open for the hikers who enjoy it.

Once you’re done at Moore Point, head back up to the junction and turn left, continuing in a northeasterly direction for 0.4 miles to another junction. The trail to the right is the Fish Creek Trail, climbing steeply along Fish Creek and the south side of Hunt’s Bluff. Again, Lakeshore Trail hikers get the easy route, staying straight on towards Flick Creek Dock, about a mile and a half along the trail.

As you approach Flick Creek, you’ll pass some cabins. These are the property of people who live in Stehekin, Manson, or Chelan. Please respect their privacy as you hike this section.

Once you pass the Flick Creek Dock, you’re on the home stretch. It’s just 3.6 miles to the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin, and from there, plenty of other adventures await.

The trail stays high above the lake for the first section past Flick Creek, then crosses a large wash in Fourmile Creek. In 2010, a heavy rainfall event blew this section of trail out and while the trail is passable now, you can still see the damage incurred by the heavy floodwaters.

Take time on this last stretch to enjoy views of a craggy pinnacle across the way, soaring 8137-feet above the lake. This is Castle Rock, a popular climbing destination, and a photogenic one to boot. Get pictures from these angles now; you can see the rock from Stehekin, but not from the south or east side as you can see them on the Lakeshore Trail.

Enter Stehekin just behind some seasonal housing and government buildings on the south end of town. Pass the Golden West Visitor Center (or duck inside for a little shade and to enjoy the small art gallery featuring work done by artists-in-residence and locals).

Be sure to save time for a quick tour of the valley via bus or bike, and don’t forget to visit the Stehekin Pastry Company — two miles from the ferry dock.

WTA Pro Tip: The ferry is the most popular way to access Stehekin and tickets do sell out, particularly in the height of summer. Purchase boat tickets beforehand at ladyofthelake.com. If you'll be buying day of at Field's Point, bring plenty of cash or your checkbook, and know that there may not be room for day-of ticket purchasers on the boat.

 

Chelan Lakeshore Trail

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.1466, -120.4983 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Central Cascades -- Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan

Chelan Lakeshore (#1247)

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Golden West Visitor Center, Stehekin

See weather forecast

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)

Day Hiking: Central Cascades by Craig Romano (Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Stehekin No. 82 map

Buy the Green Trails Lucerne No. 114 map

Buy the Green Trails Prince Creek No. 115 map

Getting There

You'll take the Lady of the Lake ferry from Chelan or Field's Point to access this trail.

To Chelan: From Wenatchee, head west on Hwy 97A for 38 miles to the Lady of the Lake dock, one mile west of the center of town. There is overnight parking available here, but there's much more available at Field's Point.

To Field's Point: From Chelan, take Hwy 97 north out of town and 3.5 miles from the center of town, arrive at a Y junction. Take the right hand road (Route 971) about 13 miles north to a sharp right turn into a large parking lot.

Be sure to pay for overnight parking before purchasing your boat tickets.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Chelan Lakeshore Trail

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