There are beautiful mountain lakes. Then there is Lake Chelan, an ultra-scenic, 50-mile-long lake pinched by snowy caps of the remote Cascades. An ice-blue pearl, Lake Chelan reaches depths more than 1,400 feet and ranks as the third deepest lake in the United States. This adventure begins with a 4-hour ferry ride across the lake. You'll share the deck with long-lens photographers snapping shots of dramatic peaks, waterfalls, and mountain goats.
Leave the ferry riders at Stehekin. From the dock, walk past the visitor center to the Lakeshore Trail to start a 14-mile out-and-back weekend trip. The path weaves through lush pine-fir forest and several burn areas. Bring a wildflower field guide: Indian paintbrush, glacier lilies, and lupines pepper the ground. The first 3 miles of trail traverse a scree-talus field, pass the remnants of an old sheepherder's homestead, and skirt a waterfall that tumbles down mossy rocks. After 5.2 miles, crest the high point along Hunts Bluff. (Views extend across Stehekin to distant Cascade peaks). From here, it's 1.8 miles to Moore Point Campground. Set up camp, and savor the views at sunset. The next day return 7 miles back to Stehekin.
Info: North Cascades National Park and Lady of the Lake
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography
- Distance: 11.3
Location: 48.3093529, -120.657608
Follow the sign for the Lakeshore Trail at the NPS Visitor Center. The hike starts by heading southeast (away from the visitor center) on a dirt road.
Location: 48.308197, -120.6562576
Head east off the road onto the Lakeshore Trail. Pass campsites complete with "His" and "Her" outhouses on the hillside.
Location: 48.3045311, -120.6509552
The grassy and lush fir-pine forest transitions to the first of many burn areas along the trail. Since 2001, there have been at least 3 major forest fires in this region of the lakeshore. Keep an eye out for woodpeckers that thrive here; raptors soar above grassy areas thick with wildflowers. Ahead, the trail passes old, hardy ponderosa pines that survived the fire. Bring a wildflower field guide: Balsamroot, Indian paintbrush, ballhead waterleaf, glacier lilies, death camas, lupines, and various species of desert parsley speckle the ground.
Location: 48.3021355, -120.6490402
Cross Hazard Creek on a fairly sturdy log (the original bridge burned down). The creek is fairly easy to cross unless there's heavy runoff from the Sawtooth Mountains.
Location: 48.2976532, -120.6447678
Traverse a slide area on the shores of the lake. The trail crosses rough piles of scree and talus just a few feet from the waters of Lake Chelan. Listen closely-you may be able to hear the call of the loon.
Location: 48.2895699, -120.6354523
Hike south-southeast, heading away from the lake through a scorched gully. Cross a small creek, and keep hiking. Watch closely for falling rocks and dead trees, especially during windy or rainy weather.
Location: 48.2851677, -120.6335602
The trail winds through a meadow, paralleling a stone wall (a remnant of an old sheepherder's homestead).
Location: 48.2835045, -120.6328583
Cross Fourmile Creek on a sturdy bridge, then continue hiking southeast through silver snags.
Location: 48.2781379, -120.6290245
The trail curves to the left along Flick Creek and travels into a deep gully.
Location: 48.2771492, -120.6268311
Cross Flick Creek below a spectacular waterfall (seasonal) that tumbles down mossy rocks.
Location: 48.2695808, -120.6226425
Continue straight @ 3-way junction. For camping, turn right and follow 100-foot spur trail to Flick Creek Camp on the shores of the lake. This camping area offers an outhouse, a couple tables, several tent sites, and expansive views up and down the lake.
Location: 48.2578354, -120.6163177
Cross Hunts Creek. Look for a small waterfall near the trail. Next, turn right, heading west through another burn area. Get ready to huff up steep slopes to several vantage points along Hunts Bluff (well worth the effort). First major view is just ¼ mile ahead.
Location: 48.2538261, -120.614975
Crest the high point along wind-swept Hunts Bluff. Look north to find Stehekin, the Stehekin Valley, and McGregor Mountain. Across the lake to the south, Emerald, Saska, and Cardinal peaks break up the skyline. Continue southeast on trail. Optional: For a shorter day hike, turn around at this point and follow the same route back to the trailhead.
Location: 48.2381783, -120.6096573
Continue straight @ 3-way junction. Fish Creek Trail veers off to the left. Ahead, listen for the roar of Fish Creek.
Location: 48.2372589, -120.6093445
Cross Fish Creek Bridge, a spectacular and massive bridge built over the roaring spring waters of Fish Creek (the old one burned in the Rex Creek Fire of 2001). Next, turn right @ signed junction and hike downhill through open rocky terrain.
Location: 48.234684, -120.6163406
Moore Point: This popular camping area along the Lakeshore Trail, has a privy and numerous campsites. When the lake level is high enough, the Lady of the Lake boat service can drop hikers off here for a one-way hike. Day hikers: Drop your packs and savor the scenery before starting the 7-mile return trip back to Stehekin.
Location: 48.234684, -120.6163406