Hiking and Backpacking in Stehekin

The Stehekin Valley is in the heart of the North Cascades and is in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, part of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

It is a major entryway into the mountains, providing access to some of the best hiking and backpacking in the world. Trails range from short one-mile hikes to major treks including the Pacific Crest Trail which extends from Canada to Mexico. Ask about trail listings from the Chelan Ranger Station in Chelan, or the Golden West Visitor Center at Stehekin Landing. Free backcountry permits are needed for overnight stays at all North Cascades National Park Service Complex camps and they are available at ranger stations on a first-come first-serve basis up to a day in advance. Boat-in camps do not require a backcountry permit, but do require a $5/day or $40/season (May 1 to October 1) Lake Chelan Federal Dock Site permit for boats.

Note: the listed mileages are ONE-WAY. For backpacking options, visit the backpacking page and scroll down to the Stehekin listings.

Easy Hikes

Agnes Gorge
2.5 miles (4.0 km)
This perfect day hike with excellent views of Agnes Mountain ends with the reward of the deep Agnes Gorge and a spring-time waterfall. Notice the many different plant communities along the way.

Imus Creek Loop
0.8 miles (1.2 km)
This self-guided nature trail features a birds-eye view of Lake Chelan and the lower Stehekin Valley. Borrow an Imus Creek Trail booklet from the box at either end of the trail.

17.2 miles (27.7 km)
Trail follows the scenic north shore of Lake Chelan. Ideal for early morning and evening walks. Great panoramic view of McGregor Mountain at one mile. Flick Creek at 3.5 miles (5.6 km) or Moore Point at 7 miles (11.2 km) are good day hike destinations. Please respect private homes along trail.

Buckner Orchard Loop
variable length
Take a short forest walk (3/8ths mile) on “Buckner Lane” following the century old irrigation ditch that is still essential to the life of the orchard. To learn the story of the Buckner family, borrow a self-guided tour booklet found at 2 locations in the orchard.
The Historic Buckner Orchard is on the National Register of Historic Places. A commercial orchard from the 1920’s until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1970, it is tangible history of one family’s life in partnership with the land. It is the only orchard producing “Common Delicious” apples in the United States today and is recognized as one of the best maintained historic orchards in the nation.

Stehekin River
4.0 miles (6.4 km)
Trail follows the Stehekin River to Weaver Point. Watch for spring flowers, beaver ponds, woodpeckers and kokanee salmon in the fall. Trail is shaded and relatively level.

Old Wagon Trail
5.2 miles (8.4 km)
Follow signs past Coon Lake to Bridge Creek via the Old Wagon Trail. Evidence of the 2005 Shady Fire and old growth western red cedars are among the highlights. This trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail heading north to State Route 20 and then to Manning Provincial Park in Canada.

Moderate Hikes

Agnes Creek
5.5 miles (8.8 km) to Five-mile camp (2,642 miles to Mexico).
As the southbound Pacific Crest Trail, this trail continues for 2,642 miles to the border of Mexico, but also makes a great day hike along the Agnes River to Five-Mile Camp. Enjoy a forested walk with large western red cedars along the way.

Coon Lake
1.3 miles (2.1 km)
Coon Lake is an excellent place for bird watching. Also, watch for views of Agnes Mountain to the southwest. Extend the hike into a loop: watch for a turn-out one mile past Coon Lake that will bring you back to the Stehekin Valley Road.

Rainbow Loop
4.4 miles (7.1 km)
Hike to open bluffs overlooking the scenic Stehekin River Valley and historic Buckner Orchard. Take a break at the bridge over Rainbow Creek at 2.5 miles (4 km).

Strenuous Hikes

McGregor Mountain
7.7 miles (12.4 km)
Continue from Coon Lake another steep 6.4 miles (10.2 km) to the summit and sweeping views of the Stehekin and Agnes drainages. Last 0.5 mile is a hand-and-foot scramble up talus and ledges to summit. Check at the Golden West Visitor Center for route information and snow conditions.

Purple Creek
7.5 miles (12.1 km)
Enjoy 57 switchbacks and exceptional views of the valley and Lake Chelan. Hike an additional 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to Boulder Butte for a 360 degree view at 7372’(2247m). Lake Juanita is 0.5 miles (0.8 km) from Purple Pass. No water along trail after first two miles; hot in summer.

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