When snow still covers the high-country in early spring and late fall, this 11.4-mile out-and-back offers a scenic, lower-elevation option for hikers. Or go in late spring to see the brilliant displays of wildflowers that cover the hillsides. You’ll spot the rare Tweedy’s lewisia (a flowering plant with yellowish-pink flowers), paintbrush, and lupines.
From the parking area, follow a gated road for the first 1.2 miles—you’ll connect with the Chiwaukum Creek Trail at the end of the road. Hike past slide alder and vine maples into mature forest. The trail follows the creek past a grove of massive, old-growth ponderosa pines and a creek-side camping spot. After 3.3 miles, the path wanders through lupine-lined meadows, dotted with towering pines, and views of the surrounding ridges and cliffs.
Tackle a steep, but short, section of trail at mile 5, which leads to the trip’s highpoint on the upper cliffs above Chiwaukum Creek. From here, descend back down to the water—drop your pack and relax next to the narrow, fast-moving Chiwaukum Creek. When you’re ready, turn around and follow the same route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography