PESHASTIN — Leonard Sauer sits in a chair showing hikers his pine cone collection as they finish their hike.
Sauer owns the trailhead that leads to Sauer’s Mountain. It’s a trail that winds steeply through the foothills near Peshastin, amongst wildflowers and ponderosa pine trees, starting in Sauer’s parking lot and then continuing onto Forest Service land.
On Sunday, Sauer sat next to the trailhead showing hikers the difference between a ponderosa pine cone and a western white pine cone. Nearby his dog, Blue Lady, 13, lies sprawled out on the ground in the parking lot, basking in the sunlight.
Sauer says he enjoys the opportunity to sit and talk to people as they access trailhead. His trail and the mountain that he named after himself have become a bit of an internet phenomenon, Sauer said.
Sure enough, if someone looks online at sites like the Washington Trail Association’s website, they’ll see a number of recent reviews for the trail.
It makes sense for it to be a popular hike, especially in the late spring. The trail is covered in a sea of wildflowers such as balsamroot, lupine, spring beauties and more.
It also has an abundance of wildlife. I’ve seen turkey vultures, baby chipmunks, lizards and bear paw prints. A trail runner also informed me that he saw the bear on one of my trips up the mountain.
I’ve actually done Sauer Mountain three times in the last month, because it is just such a beautiful hike. It is a bit crowded, though. I’ve run into people from the Tri-Cities, Tacoma and Seattle on the hike.
At the trailhead there is a little wooden box where people can drop off a few dollars for using the trail. The money of course goes to Sauer to manage the parking lot.
Hikers can then start making their way uphill past a house on the left. The brush is rather dense in this part and hikers walk under an awning of vegetation, but it’s quite beautiful.
The trail then splits and hikers get to make a choice. To the right is a steep climb that heads straight toward Sauer’s Mountain. To the left is a more gradual climb that also leads to scenic viewpoint.
There is a labyrinth of trails at the beginning of the hike, but it doesn’t matter which one you pick. They all lead to the same place.
Within the first mile hikers climb close to 700 feet in elevation. It’s also the part of the hike with the most wildflowers. As hikers get a little higher the trees start to thin out and the environment feels more alpine.
Eventually hikers will reach a three-way intersection with a sign pointing in the direction of Sauer Mountain. At this point the hike will start to level out a bit and you’re walking along a rideline, but it’s still a steep climb.
All along the way hikers can look behind them and see breathtaking views of the Wenatchee Valley, the city of Leavenworth and The Enchantments rising behind them.
About two miles into the hike you’re near the top and you reach a Forest Service road. A sign nearby says that they’re doing logging.
A lot of hikers have gotten confused when reaching the road and have turned back, not sure where the trail goes. They need to head straight across the road and scramble up the rocky embankment to get to where the trail continues.
It gets really steep at this point, but luckily not for very long. About a quarter of a mile later hikers will reach the top of Sauer Mountain with a sign showing the different peaks. People can look out at Tumwater Canyon, Sleeping Lady, Wedge Mountain and even see Glacier Peak in the distance.
It feels like the top of Sauer Mountain is crowned by majestic peaks. It’s truly a beautiful view.
At the top I actually ran into two interesting things. One was a lizard that I’ve never seen before. It looked a little like a salamander, but I’m honestly unsure. The second was a nest of baby chipmunks in a stump. They poked their heads out to look at me.
In total the hike was 5.3 miles in length and 1,700 feet of elevation. I would say it was a good moderate-to-difficult climb. I was definitely out of breath when I got to the top, but it’s not even close to the most challenging adventure I’ve ever done.
Several people didn’t make it all the way to the top, though. I saw quite a few climbers get to the ridgeline and decide that was sufficient for a day trip.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy spring wildflowers, but remember it gets busy on Saturdays.
How to get there:
Turn onto Main Street in Peshastin. In .5 miles turn left to continue onto Main Street and drive for .5 miles to Anderson Canyon Road next to the Peshastin Cemetery. Turn right onto Anderson Canyon Road and continue .5 miles until you reach the trailhead on the left. There will be two ponds including a wooden penguin statue on a pier to your left. People can park on either side of the road.