Wenatchee, WA: Minnow Creek

Hike to stunning views above the Chiwawa River valley on this 5.4-mile out-and-back that visits the exposed cliff bands beneath Basalt Peak.
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Hike to stunning views above the Chiwawa River valley on this 5.4-mile out-and-back that visits the exposed cliff bands beneath Basalt Peak.

Don't expect a warm-up on this 5.4-miler—the climb starts right from the trailhead with a switchback ascent of Basalt Peak's lower slopes. The trail levels slightly after 0.5 mile for a mountainside traverse past intermittent views. Shortly thereafter, the trail crosses Minnow Creek, which flows down a small ravine and forms a petite waterfall to the left of the trail. During snowmelt, the sounds of the creek can be heard as you hike.
Nearly 2 miles in, turn left at the 3-way junction, and hike west through a moist seep area filled with mud and wildflowers. As you round the ridge on the mountain, look through the trees for the first views above the Chiwawa River valley. From this point, it's a mere 0.3-mile ascent to the basalt cliffs, where views extend across the Rock Creek valley to the north. (Walk carefully along the edge of the cliffs.) Look up the Chiwawa River valley toward Chiwawa Mountain to spot Little Giant Pass and Crook Mountain, Clark Mountain, and Buck Mountain. The meandering Chiwawa River winds across the valley below your feet. When you're done soaking in the views, retrace the same route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.7

Waypoints

MIN001

Location: 47.9561234, -120.7361145

Hike north from the trailhead and start climbing. Don't forget your bug spray-the forested regions of the Chiwawa are a haven for mosquitoes.

MIN002

Location: 47.9596176, -120.7365341

The trail levels slightly as it traverses the mountainside (a good opportunity to catch your breath). Hike northwest, passing intermittent views of the peaks surrounding Lake Wenatchee. The forest floor is home of a white carpet of queens cup, bunchberry, and vanilla leaf.

MIN003

Location: 47.9617882, -120.7411041

Minnow Creek flows down a small ravine and forms a petite waterfall to the left of the trail. During snowmelt, the sounds of the creek can be heard as you hike. (The creek may run dry by late summer.) Look for hairy woodpeckers in the trees.

MIN004

Location: 47.9627762, -120.7492371

Cross Minnow Creek (a small trickle at this point), and begin a fairly steep climb. Yellow violets and trillium line the creek.

MIN005

Location: 47.963707, -120.7549057

Stay straight @ 3-way on Basalt Peak Trail (No. 1515). The trail on the left leads to Chiwawa River Road. Look for insulators in the trees that covered the phone line to a fire lookout that once stood on the summit of Basalt Peak. The silver, grand, and Douglas firs are bigger along this stretch.

MIN006

Location: 47.9661751, -120.7577209

Turn left @ 3-way junction marked with "Viewpoint" sign. Hike west to reach the top of the basalt cliffs (Basalt Peak's namesake). Optional: Continue straight @ 3-way for a stiff, 1.5-mile climb to the forested summit of 6,004-foot Basalt Peak.

MIN007

Location: 47.9670486, -120.7627411

Hike through a moist seep area filled with mud and wildflowers (yellow violets, Solomon-seal, and devil's club). Walk gently to protect the vegetation.

MIN008

Location: 47.9633865, -120.7659912

As you sharply round a ridge on the mountain, look through the trees for the first views above the Chiwawa River valley. Grassy, desert-like flora dominates the landscape (desert parsley, buckwheat, paintbrush, and pines). Ahead, begin ascent along the top of the cliffs.

MIN009

Location: 47.9667091, -120.7664566

Grand views extend from the edge of the basalt cliffs across the Rock Creek valley to the north. (Walk carefully along the edge of the cliffs.) Look up the Chiwawa River valley toward Chiwawa Mountain to spot Little Giant Pass and Crook Mountain, Clark Mountain, and Buck Mountain. The meandering Chiwawa River winds across the valley below your feet. When you're done soaking in the views, retrace the same route back to the trailhead.

Overlook

Location: 47.9667015, -120.7664032

Views of Estes Butte and the Chiwawa Valley.