Hikes & Walks for Everyone in Leavenworth and the Icicle Valley
It’s no secret that Leavenworth and the entire Icicle Valley are well-suited for the outdoor adventurer: river rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. But our most requested outdoor adventure is hiking! There are plenty of stunning hikes in the Cascades for the advanced outdoorsman (you have to put your name on a waitlist for the Colchuck Lake pass during the busy season because it is so popular). But for those of you who are staying with us at Run of the River and are simply looking for a day out in nature, we’ve got recommendations for everything from easy walkabouts full of local highlights to challenging trails with unique views of the surrounding beauty.
The following are some of our favorite hikes, all within a 20-minute drive from Run of the River - and some just down the road! We have listed them below in order from easy to more challenging (note: their difficulty ratings are not based on the avid outdoorsman, but rather for our average guest). For each, we have provided the technical specs of the hike, some hike highlights, and our Run of the River "Pro Tip!"
LEAVENWORTH FISH HATCHERY
Length: 1 mile loop
Elevation Gain: none
Difficulty Level: Very Easy
Trail Type: Mostly paved; some areas of flat dirt
Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, Department of the Interior
Pass Required: None
Distance from Run of the River: 2.5 miles
Parking: Park in front of the Fish Hatchery building and walk toward - then beyond - the hatching pools to get to the trailhead.
Grab a parking spot in this lot in front of the Fish Hatchery
The Trail: This trail begins right inside the fish hatchery grounds and takes you for a lovely nature walk on a paved road with placards along the way describing the local flora and fauna. A portion of the trail overlooks the area of the Icicle River where the salmon are released. While the trail is man-made and well-maintained, there is still wildlife to be seen in the area! We spotted a family of deer while out for a morning stroll. There are even a few "blinds" built in along the trail so you can take a break and observe the wildlife along the paths and in the river.
Pro Tip: The Leavenworth Fish Hatchery is located just down the road from Run of the River! This is nearby adventure that's perfect to enjoy before heading back to the Inn for our five-course breakfast. If you are looking to get a bit more of a workout, walk to the fish hatchery trail and back (which will make your total trip six miles).
WATERFRONT PARK & BLACKBIRD ISLAND
Length: 1 mile loop or 2 mile loop (it’s a “Choose Your Own Adventure” trail)
Elevation Gain: 55 ft
Difficulty Level: Easy
Trail Type: Flat dirt
Ownership: Leavenworth Parks Department
Pass Required: None
Distance from ROTR: 1.5 miles
Parking: You can park anywhere in Downtown Leavenworth (the park is located behind the hospital) or drive down 9th Street to a parking lot adjacent to the beginning of the trail.
The Trail: This casual park-like trail keeps you close to town while also giving you a taste of Washington’s natural beauty. The views of Wedge Mountain across the Icicle River as you make your way down the beginning of the trail are absolutely breathtaking. Part of the walk brings you beside the river, while the center path cuts through tall trees and provides plentiful shade. The trail stays flat throughout - the highest elevations are merely the few concrete bridges you cross as you loop your way around Blackbird Island and toward Leavenworth Golf Course.
Pro Tip: Black bears are often spotted on Blackbird Island during the summer months and have even been known to make their den there during the winter. This is not a safety concern, but is indeed something to keep an eye out for…including those big piles of bear scat on the trail!
TUMWATER PIPELINE/PENSTOCK TRAIL
Length: Out-and-back trail, 2.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100 ft
Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate (the water crossing during flooded months can prove a bit difficult)
Trail Type: Dirt with a few trail obstructions and/or hazards
Ownership: U.S. Forest Service
Pass Required: None
Distance from ROTR: 4 miles
Directions/Parking: From the corner of Icicle Road and Highway 2, drive 1.7 miles West on Highway 2. Turn left at a nondescript parking area next to the river. Park anywhere in the lot and head towards the bridge.
The Trail: This trail allows you to walk an old water pipeline along the Wenatchee River through the impressive Tumwater Canyon. The trail starts at the site of the power plant, where parts of the foundation remain. At 1.2 miles the trail abruptly ends, where a tunnel once bore through the jumbled rocks and ledges that now impede further travel. The hike itself is easy and the scenery is stunning: the old pipeline, the views up and down the Wenatchee River from the bridge, the glimpses of Castle Rock across the water (can you spot the local rock climbers?!). The foliage and flowers along this trail are beautiful, but it’s the spots where the trail opens towards the rushing river (“Tumwater” means rough water in Chinook), that make this hike special. Come during spring for blooming flowers and lush greenery, enjoy colorful foliage in the fall, and bring your snowshoes in the winter.
Note: In spring and early summer, parts of the trail become flooded. This may impede your hike all-together once you reach this point. It is also possible to cross the streams, depending on the water level. This can be a bit treacherous if you walk the pointy and slippery rocks, but if you are willing to get your shoes wet, you can walk right through!
Pro Tip: For railroad and history buffs, the Tumwater Pipeline Trail is an outdoor museum. Many pieces that helped the pipeline function can still be found along the trail. The sawed-in-half pipe itself that now serves as a bridge is a sight to behold! Be sure to keep an eye out for cool old artifacts underfoot - that are also trail hazards in some place (e.g. these ties poking up from the ground).
Length: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.
Difficulty Level: Moderate (parts of the trail are Difficult)
Trail Type: Dirt, sand, and rock
Ownership: Washington Parks Department
Pass Required: Discover Pass
Distance from ROTR: 10 miles
Parking: Park in the designated parking lot and display proper pass or make a payment for the day at the box.
The Trail: If you are looking for a unique view of the Icicle Valley and want a bit of a challenge, look no further than the Peshastin Pinnacles. The trails here are well-built, but at times are very steep and eroded in certain areas. Part of the hike is full of switchbacks and requires nimble footwork. But the 200-foot-high sand-stone spires are striking and completely worth the trip. The trail overlooks local orchards against a backdrop of lofty ridges and peaks. The pinnacles are a local favorite for climbers, but are also a great place to enjoy a short but challenging hike. We have spotted all sorts of majestic and beloved critters out on this trail, but please be cautious as it is known for being a rattlesnake favorite. Don't let that deter you, though! There is so much to appreciate about the accomplishment of this short but challenging hike, while also enjoying the journey and taking in the gorgeous contrast of the stark stone against the lush orchards.
Note: Due to their southwestern exposure, the Pinnacles are blasted by sunlight during the day and can get too hot to hike in the summer. Either hit the trail first thing in the morning (the park opens at 6:30 am) or save this hike for spring or early fall.
Can you spot the three in this photo?
Pro Tip: Does the hillside look like it’s wiggling? What about those moving rocks? We promise you’re not dehydrated and seeing things! The Peshastin Pinnacles are home to a large population of marmots. These little rock-dwellers will keep you company throughout your hike.
Length: 6 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft.
Difficulty Level: Difficult
Trail Type: Dirt, sand, and rock
Ownership: Begins on Private Property (enters National Forest Land mid-hike)
Pass Required: None
Distance from ROTR: 4.5 miles
Parking: Sauer’s Mountain is generously available to the public via a private owner. Park on either side of the street once you arrive at the trailhead. Approximately 10 cars fit in the parking area. Please be respectful of this property and the surrounding neighbors. You are also welcome to leave a donation in the box in the parking area.
Trail: The Sauer’s Mountain trail is truly a hidden gem! This trail will challenge you with its narrow pathways, steep gain, and rock-filled dirt path. But the myriad wildflowers and wide open views are more than worth the trek. The real highlight? Sauer’s collection of carved totems, funky faces, and other pieces of art along the beginning of the trail. It is a true combination of art and nature, creating a fun and eclectic vibe that offers something a little out of the ordinary. As you ascend, look for a fork in the trail. The left fork will offer spectacular views of the Stuart Range, the Wenatchee River Valley, and the Enchantments. The right fork offers a straight path through the shady forest to the summit. Take either fork since the trail reconnects later just before the viewpoint. You will find the Sauer’s Mountain sign and summit register at the end of the trail.
Note: This hike begins on the private land of Mr. Sauer so please be respectful of this when adventuring. Take extra care to observe “no trace” practices.
Pro Tip: Sauer's Mountain is best hiked with hiking boots (and hiking poles if you wish!). It is very steep and narrow at times, ascending quickly at the beginning. Be prepared to spend a few hours on the trail and bring all of your hiking necessities along with you.
We hope that something on this list has sparked your interest to get out and explore on your next visit to Leavenworth and Run of the River. We are so grateful to be situated in the Icicle Valley, surrounded by stunning wildlife and endless adventures, while also having the common comforts and accessibility that our sweet little town provides. As always, feel free to give us a call or visit the front desk as you are planning your trip ahead of time of the day-of. We have maps, brochures, and expert tips available! Happy trails!