The Lake Chelan Valley is rife with opportunities for adventure. There’s swimming, water sports, cycling, paragliding… the list goes on and on. Avid hikers will find no shortage of new trails to explore here in the valley. We thought we’d highlight a few of our favorite day hikes to do before hopping in the lake to cool down!
Elephant’s Head & Chelan Butte
Walking distance from downtown Chelan is the trailhead for the Chelan Butte. It’s just under 2 miles to Elephant’s Head, a popular stopping point and lookout. The first half of the hike is steep but the views of Lake Chelan, the gorge, and the Columbia River will be well worth the workout. We recommend hitting the trail in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures or in the evening to enjoy that golden hour light. If you’re up for more of a challenge, continue up from Elephant’s Head to hike to the top of the Chelan Butte. It’s about twice as long, but you’ll be greeted by a 360-degree view of the valley. For more experienced hikers, we can’t recommend this hike enough!
Little Bear Trail
Head out along the south shore to Lake Chelan State Park. The Little Bear trail is 2.3 miles roundtrip and is suitable for all ages. You’ll start by weaving through the lush greenery of the state park before passing through a tunnel below South Lakeshore Road and looping up into the forest to overlook Lake Chelan. It’s a perfect hike to do before jumping in the lake at the state park on a hot summer’s day.
Echo Ridge, located just 10 miles from Chelan and Manson, offers over 25 miles of trails for you to adventure on. The trails vary in length and difficulty making it easy to find one that suits you and your crew. Taking the kids for an adventure? Try the Lolly Pop, Tootsy Roll, or Whoop-Di-Do loops! Looking for a longer hike? Give the Outback trail a shot. Many of the trails intersect and overlap so you can explore and create your own route. It’s easy to pass an entire day winding through Echo Ridge’s many trails and enjoying the views. Find a map of the Echo Ridge trails here or download them on your phone to take with you!
Take a drive out to 25-Mile Creek Road and head up towards Stormy Mountain. It’s a long but beautiful lakeside drive to the trailhead. The hike itself is very family-friendly but both youngsters and hiking enthusiasts will love the 1.5-mile hike. You’ll be treated to some of the very best views of Lake Chelan from way up high. We recommend packing a lunch and getting an early start to beat the heat.
Rainbow Loop Trail
If you’re catching the ferry to Stehekin, consider adding the Rainbow Loop trail to your agenda. The lower trailhead is 2.6 miles from the Stehekin landing, while the upper trailhead is 5 miles away and the Stehekin shuttle will take you to either. The hike is about 4.4 miles in its entirety with an option to complete the loop by walking the road between trailheads. You’ll catch stunning views of Lake Chelan, the Stehekin river, and local orchards. The lower trailhead is just a quick ½ mile from the Stehekin Pastry Company so you can treat yourself to a delicious post-hike pastry – you deserve it!
What are you waiting for? The trails await you. For more information on hiking your way through the hills of the Lake Chelan Valley, check out our hiking page here or pick up a guide book from the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce. Happy trails!