Our final suggestion in the Best Day Hikes series. The following describes the best of the best in the “Challenging” category. If you are all about getting the fantastic views, and don’t mind breaking a sweat to get them, then this is for you. I would put this in the “well worth it” category, but you will certainly earn your dinner (and dessert) with this one!
McGregor Mountain – This trail is the one for those looking to get some elevation and spectacular views of the North Cascades mountain range. There is a well built trail most of the way to the top of the 8,129′ mountain. The last mile is a relatively easy scramble, but you definitely want to exercise caution and use good judgement. The scramble route is marked with red paint, but it can be tricky to find, so if you plan to summit, do your homework before you head out. From the trailhead, it is 7 miles to the top. Those looking for a shorter hike will start getting some great views about 2 miles from the trailhead. Regardless of how far you go, this hike is well worth the effort on a clear day!
Difficult, but with Moderate options for those not wanting to summit, 14 miles RT to summit, many viewpoints
Installment 2 of our day hike suggestions for your stay in the Stehekin Valley (and at our Ranch of course!). The following suggestions fall into the “Moderate” category. More elevation, and more views, but still not overly strenuous.
Rainbow Loop Trail – This trail falls into the easy to moderate category. There are 2 trailheads for this hike. You must hike a bit of the road in order to complete the “loop”, but most people simply start at the Upper trailhead, and come out at the Lower trailhead, which is conveniently located about 1/2 mile from the bakery where they can get an ice cream cone and wait for the next bus to bring them back to the Ranch. The upper end of the trail is mostly wooded – quite nice as you are hiking uphill! You will cross a bridge about halfway – this is Rainbow Creek. From here on out you will get many view points looking out across the Stehekin Valley. Looking straight down, you will see Buckner Orchard, and off to the left is Lake Chelan. As an optional extension, you can branch off onto the main Rainbow Creek Trail a mile or so and get some more great views as you go up. Easy-Moderate 4.5 miles with viewpoints of the Stehekin Valley and Lake Chelan.
McGregor Mountain Lite – This trail is the one for those looking to get some elevation and spectacular views of the North Cascades mountain range. It is 7 miles of uphill trail to get to the summit (stay tuned for our next installment if you are looking to summit), but the great thing about this trail is that you don’t have to go to the top to enjoy some fabulous views. As you head up, you will pass Coon Lake about 1 mile in. This is a beautiful alpine lake. Keep going past the lake and you will come to the McGregor Trail turnoff. As you continue up, you’ll start getting some great views about another mile from the lake. The farther up you go, the more you will be able to see, but you can turn around at any time. Regardless of how far you go, this hike is well worth the effort on a clear day! Difficult, but with Moderate options for those not wanting to summit, 14 miles RT to summit, many viewpoints
There are many hikes to choose from when staying in the Stehekin Valley, but here at the Ranch, we do have our favorites. The following is the first of 3 articles describing our best suggestions. Today’s feature is on the list of “Easy” hikes in Stehekin. Stay tuned for “Moderate” and “Challenging” suggestions in future posts!
Agnes Gorge – While this is a fairly easy 1/2 day hike, it is hands down my favorite. 2.5 miles of trail takes you through wooded areas, and breaks out into spectacular mountain views. At the end of the trail, you can scramble right down to the creek, and watch it crash over a 30 foot falls into the gorge. Or you can stay up top, and look down at it from high above. You can also see the remains of the old suspension bridge that used to span the gorge – not for the faint of heart!! When you visit the Ranch, you can see a picture showing a pack string of horses crossing that bridge – quite impressive! Easy 5 miles round-trip with viewpoints.
Coon Lake – This is the beginning of the trail to McGregor Mountain. It is just 1 mile in to get to Coon Lake, which is a beautiful alpine lake. If you continue up the McGregor trail another mile or 2, you will come to some great lookouts with mountain views to the south. You can also choose to return via the wagon trail, which will take you to a trailhead further up the Stehekin Road from where you started. There is very little traffic on this upper end of the road (the buses stop at High Bridge), so you can wander down this very pleasant 1.5 miles of road in peace. You will also cross Tumwater Bridge on this section of road, which is quite spectacular. Easy 2+ miles (actual mileage depends on route)
Lakeshore Trail – This fun trail takes you back along the lake for a pleasant stroll. You can make this hike as long as you like – the trail continues 17 miles to Prince Creek. There is a nice picnic shelter at Flick Creek (~4 miles), which can make a good lunch/turn around point. For a longer hike, you can go to Moore Point (7 miles) or just wander until you feel like turning around. Don’t forget you have to walk back as far as you walked in! Easy – as long as you like, with lake views
Want to learn more about hiking trails? Click here to read more…
Recently, I came across a video demonstrating a trend of today’s youth becoming addicted to technology rather than enjoying the outdoors and playing with other kids. Grandparents remember fishing adventures, exploring the woods and picking berries as some of their favorite activities. Their children remember playing with the neighborhood kids, games of baseball, building forts. What is important to the current generation of kids? Video games, movies, texting – they spend hour upon hour glued to their technology. Is this healthy? I would say introducing these kids to the outdoors and all that nature has to offer would be a huge service to them!
Stehekin Valley Ranch provides a great atmosphere for a technology-free vacation for the whole family! Don’t worry about cell phones – there is no service here. WiFi while available, is too slow to watch movies or play online games. So get outside! There are lots of fun activities to try, and natural wonders abound!
Guided activities include kayaking (kids as young as 3 can go with a parent), horseback riding (8 years and up for the trail ride, lessons and pony rides available for younger kids), and fly fishing. There are also mountain bikes to rent, trails to hike, and a lake to swim in!
If that isn’t enough to keep everyone entertained, there are a variety of games right here at the Ranch. We have ping pong, horseshoes, frisbee golf, volleyball, badminton, a playground and more. Or, if you want to stay inside we have a variety of board games, books and puzzles in our reading room.
Plus, with all your meals included, even Mom gets a vacation!
Visit our website for more details or to book your stay in paradise!
This was leaves cleanup week at the Ranch! Kerry did the lion’s share of the raking, but on Wednesday Bethany and Bren picked up their rakes to help out. It is great to be nestled in a wonderful maple grove…until it is time to deal with the leaves…
Luckily, we have a loader to help with hauling them all off! They will be added to our compost and eventually used in our various gardens and orchards to help grow fresh fruits and vegetables to serve at the Ranch.
The tent cabins are looking much more inviting now, with the roofs on! Bren Starcher has joined our staff this summer (you may remember him as the friendly bus driver from the last few years) and he has jumped right in helping getting things going this spring. We are excited to have him this year!
With all the spring-like weather we have been enjoying, we are getting an early start on fixing the Ranch up for another season. Given the large number of ideas Cliff &n Kerry have for improvements, we are going to need the extra time!
Step 1: De-winterize. To keep the snow from destroying buildings (and windows), we put up plywood each Fall. So the first step in the Spring is to take down all the boards and plywood. Once that is done, the real fun can begin!
Now that we have access to all the buildings, we can proceed with our spring projects. Stay tuned for updates on improvements for 2015!