In the heart of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State sits Lake Wenatchee, a mountain lake setting that attracts thousand of sightseers and is a hub of recreational opportunities. The Lake Wenatchee area offers many things to do and is surprisingly easy to get to.
Lake Wenatchee is centrally located in the state and is accessible from either side of the state via Highway 2. Travelers from the Seattle are will most likely be coming over Stevens Pass in the west, while travelers from Eastern Washington will come via the town of Wenatchee or Blewett Pass. The lake is 244 feet deep at its deepest and is approximately 6 miles in length with just over 13 miles of shoreline. Lake Wenatchee is fed by the White River and the Little Wenatchee River, along with snow run off from the surrounding mountains. Lake Wenatchee empties on the east end into the Wenatchee River which flows down through the towns of Leavenworth, Cashmere, and Wenatchee before emptying into the Columbia River.
Boating and fishing are available on the lake itself, along with camping at a number of different locations. On the shore, right at where the lake drains out into the Wenatchee River, is Lake Wenatchee State Park. The State Park is divided by the Wenatchee River into a north and south section, the south section having the boat dock, beach, and roped off swimming area. The beach area can be crowded on hot summer days with campers and locals alike cooling off in the beautiful mountain water. Before entering the south section of Lake Wenatchee State Park you drive through the Nason Creek Campground. Nason Creek flows through this small campground and then into the Wenatchee River. Just before the entrance to the state park, the road takes a left, if you were to follow this for three to four miles it would lead you to Glacier View Campground near the west end of Lake Wenatchee. Many of Glacier View’s campsites sit right on the shoreline of the lake. There is also a short hike to Lost Lake that starts at a trailhead near the Glacier View Campground. Lost Lake is fishable and provides a wonderful glacier-fed swimming experience. More hiking is available nearer to the State Park via the Nason Creek Trail.
Camping and hiking are also available to the west of Lake Wenatchee up the White River and Little Wenatchee River drainage areas. The campgrounds you find in this area are more primitive in what they offer, but they are also more secluded and private. In this direction you can access hikes that link up with the famous Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) that runs from Canada to California, or take smaller hikes to Twin Lakes and elsewhere. Forest service and logging roads are also plentiful in this area. West of Lake Wenatchee, back on Highway 2, will lead you to Stevens Pass which offers skiing in the wintertime.
To the north of Lake Wenatchee lies Fish Lake and true to its name that is what it is known for. There are many rental opportunities at Fish Lake for both boats and cabins to stay overnight in. Beyond Fish Lake you access the Chiwawa River area known for its trail system which is usable by foot, mountain bike, dirt bike, and horse depending on what area you are in. For the hiker with the longer endurance, trails in this area also network their way over the Entiat and Chelan Mountains extending to Lake Chelan, and the towns of Lucerne, Holden Village, and Stehekin, none of which are accessible by outside roads, and also into the beautiful Entiat River Valley.
Hiking, rock climbing, and camping are available to the south of Lake Wenatchee in the Icicle River Canyon. The Icicle River empties into the Wenatchee River at the town of Leavenworth. Many of the state’s, if not the country’s, most beautiful hiking trails can be found outside of Leavenworth in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. Hiking and camping permits are needed for most parts of this area as a way of limiting the impact of people on this treasured environment. The Icicle Canyon also offers rock climbing possibilities at a number of sites. Hiking and snowmobiling are available activities in the Blewett Pass region which is also south of Lake Wenatchee. The town of Leavenworth is a shopper’s paradise with its Bavarian themed shops and restaurants, fun to be had by all.
To the east of Lake Wenatchee, past Leavenworth, outdoor activities continue to be possibilities. Hiking and mountain biking trails can be found outside of the town of Cashmere in the Mission Creek area, rock climbers can have a go at all that Peshastin Pinnacles State Park has to offer, and of course there is fishing and boating on the mighty Columbia River that flows right by Wenatchee, the largest city in the region.
From alpine skiing to mountain biking, from horseback riding to rock climbing, it is difficult to find an equal to the diversity that this area has to offer. The Lake Wenatchee area has something to offer both the outdoor recreation enthusiast, and the casual sightseer or camper alike.