It’s been hot lately — hot enough to poach eggs on the roof of sun-exposed cars, and hot enough to bake brains in the ovens of sun-exposed skulls. The weekend ahead calls for a slight reduction in the thermostat. Likely it will be warm enough to sweat but not so hot as to cook. If you’re looking to get outdoors this weekend, here are some ideas:
River walks are prime picks this time of year — they tend to be shaded and, should your internal radiator begin to steam, they often offer options for a quick dunk. One popular river walk is the beautiful Icicle Gorge Loop (4 miles long, with minimal elevation gain), starting 17.25 miles up the Icicle River from Leavenworth. Attractions include a narrow, rocky canyon carved by churning rapids at the downstream end of the hike, and a particularly alluring swimming hole at the Rock Island Campground near the upstream end of the hike.
Another popular river walk is the Penstock Pipeline Trail bordering the Wenatchee River several miles upstream of Leavenworth in the Tumwater Canyon. This three-mile roundtrip hike borders noisy whitewater rapids and leads to a number of sandy beaches where you might sunbathe, read, or nap.
The high mountains are another preferred pick now that the snowline has shot skyward. For an enjoyable day trip near Stevens Pass, walk to Lake Valhalla (5.5 miles round trip, 1,100 feet elevation gain) — the lake is a gemstone set in a ring of craggy peaks. Meanwhile close to Rainy Pass, Minotaur Lake is a short, steep grunt (4 miles round trip, 1,800 feet elevation gain) to a particularly pretty alpine lake. Minotaur also gives you access to a scramble up Labyrinth Mountain, a craggy platform in the sky from which to peakgaze or stargaze. Labyrinth adds 3 miles of roundtrip walking and 900 vertical feet of climbing to the Minotaur Lake outing.
If time allows for getting high and staying high (and I’m not talking substance abuse here), one of the weekend hikes below would be good for both body and soul. Up near the headwaters of the Chiwawa River, hike into Spider Meadows or, better yet, Spider Gap. Complete this 14- to 18-mile round-trip hike and you’ll be bragging about it for weeks. Far less popular but no less beautiful is to wander the Entiat high country. The hikes up either Pyramid Peak (22 miles roundtrip) or Duncan Hill (14 miles round trip) are overnight backpacking trips that will leave you hungry for more.
More info: Complete details and topographic maps for all of these hikes can be found in the ‘Hiking’ guidebook at WenatcheeOutoors.org (justgetout.net/Wenatchee/pages/page/?pgid=93). With just a few clicks (and at no cost), you can print everything you need — details and maps — and be under way.
Andy Dappen is the content editor of WenatcheeOutdoors.org, the foremost website about outdoor adventures within an hour’s drive of the Wenatchee Valley.