East Cascades sampler

There are a bunch of short trails on the east side of the Cascades that I’ve been meaning to check out, partly because I think they will make good family hikes but also because they simply sounded pleasant and were new-to-me. The catch was that they were all relatively short trails, none of which really seemed to warrant its own 2.5-3 hour drive from Seattle.

I decided that I would just knock off a bunch of trails in one trip, making the drive feel a little more worthwhile. On Monday I headed east over Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, and then north over Blewett Pass on I-97. I hadn’t been to Blewett since late November and it was a completely different place this time around!

The first trail I checked out was Camas Meadows. It’s actually not a trail, but a dirt road that winds up through some clear cuts. That said, the views from the top of the ridge are lovely, there were some nice wildflowers, and it was cool to look down on Camas Meadows and appreciate that the area has been set aside as an ecological preserve. I’m glad I stopped by and I almost never regret seeing a new area, but I probably won’t be bringing the rest of the family back here.

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View of Camas Meadows from the ridgeline

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After Camas Meadows I drove into Leavenworth and grabbed a salad and a sandwich to-go. Then I headed east to Peshastin Pinnacles State Park. It’s a tiny park, only 34 acres, but I was still surprised at how empty it was. There was one other group when I arrived, and they left shortly after. I had the entire park to myself, which was pretty cool.

I ate dinner on a faded wood picnic table and then started wandering the trails. One of the rock formations is called Sunset Slab and I figured it’d be a good place to watch the sun go down. I’m honestly not sure if I ever found Sunset Slab, but I did see a gorgeous sunset. Dusk is a great time to visit Peshastin Pinnacles.

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I spent the night in our camper van at the Wenatchee Confluence State Park. I pulled in after dark and left before sunrise, so unfortunately I can’t tell you much about the campground, except that it offered a flat place to park the van and was relatively quiet.

My plan for the next morning was to catch sunrise at Swakane Canyon. I’d heard great things about Swakane and was eager to check it out.
Swakane is indeed a pretty canyon, with plenty of balsamroot and other wildflowers blooming. However, it was another double-track road, and “civilization” is visible for much of the route. I think the real problem is that after a long winter, I’m starting to get the itch for some “real” mountains.

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Heating up water for oatmeal at the Swakane “trailhead.”
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Cotton candy clouds
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Sun starting to hit the other side of the canyon
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Looking north up the canyon

 

After Swakane I still needed to get in a couple more miles, so I headed west on Hwy 2, pulling over just after Leavenworth at the Tumwater Pipeline Trail. I didn’t know much about the trail, and perhaps because I had so few expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by Tumwater. I wasn’t expecting wilderness, nor did I get it. You are almost always in sight of Highway 2. But after zipping through Tumwater Canyon multiple times in a car, it was interesting to see the Wenatchee River at a walking pace – especially this time of year! The Wenatchee is running high and just looking at some of the rapids made my stomach turn. There are a couple big waves and holes that look like they would eat you alive, especially at the current water level.

All in all, a fun 24-hrs on the east side of the Cascades!

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Paintbrush
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This picture doesn’t really do the rapid justice.
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Wenatchee River at high water
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Can you spot the climber?

 

 

 

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