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Chelan Lakeshore Trail shim John & Kristie

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hikes :: Thursday, June 12, 2008
Chelan Lakeshore Trail
WENATCHEE NATIONAL FOREST, WA :: The Lakeshore Trail is an incredible hike that is well worth the extra effort to reach it. After a three hour car ride to Chelan from the Seattle area, backpackers must board a passenger ferry that takes another three hours to arrive at the trailhead near Prince Creek. Fortunately, Kristie and I were staying at nearby Campbell's Resort for a conference, so my journey to the trail was divided into a more leisurely two days.

Aboard the ferry, I met a trio of seasoned backpackers who were taking three days to hike the 18 miles to Stehekin. I had planned to do it in two, camping at Flick Creek, 14 miles in. That would leave just the last four miles for the following day, ensuring an early arrival at the Stehekin Lodge and plenty of time to catch the express ferry back to Chelan.

At Prince Creek, the four of us deboarded as a group of about 20 other backpackers, who had just finished the reverse route, climbed on. They warned us of rattlesnakes and ticks, which I fortunately did not find. Nor did I see another person on the entire trail.

I did spot dozens of lizards, chipmunks, birds, deer and a lone mountain goat. Of course, I also enjoyed the amazing views of Lake Chelan, the third deepest lake in the United States. The weather was perfect. Sunny and warm, but refreshingly breezy. The air was filled with the sweet fragrance of ponderosas and purple lupine. At times, the sunlight filtered through the lake, producing an amazing turquoise color. I think I wore a smile during the entire hike.

At Flick Creek, my jaw dropped in awe, and then I laughed giddily in disbelief. Here lies the most beautiful campsite on the trail, and perhaps one of the best I've ever seen. The site is located alongside a bouldered shore, with views of snow-capped peaks over the gem-like lake. A floating dock, log shelter, picnic table, fire pit, bear locker, and fancy toilet are some of the other amenities. I was surprised it wasn't already claimed by another backpacker or boating party. There's really only room here for one group. Lucky me!

It was great! At Flick Creek, I soaked it all in, enjoying a most excellent evening, relaxing amidst nature in my own private paradise, thinking, "THIS is what backpacking is all about!"

The next day I walked into Stehekin, the most isolated community in the contiguous United States, where everyone waves and says, "Hello!" I washed up and changed into a fresh shirt, making it to the cozy little restaurant just in time for breakfast (9:30 AM is when they stop serving). Here I enjoyed the most tasty omelet, sausage, fried potatoes and sliced apples that I think I've ever had... It was certainly a fine way to top off a wonderful hike.

Trip report posted with additional discussion at nwhikers.net.

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on Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 12:09 AM

Amazing amazing amazing.

on Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 4:49 PM

Oh Yeah! this has to be on my top 10 list to do before I kick the bucket. Thanks for sharing John.

on Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 8:13 PM

What an incredible hike!

on Friday, June 20, 2008 at 8:14 AM

What a great story - The shots are brilliant as always and I must say I envy you this trip a little. Glad you had such a great time.


on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 9:32 AM

Very cool pics John. Looks and sounds like it was a lot of fun. Sorry I couldn't join you.

on Friday, August 15, 2008 at 8:42 PM

Nice photos!

on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Hello John,

I have visited your website numerous times since I planned to do the Chelan Lakeshore Trail in 2010. Your detailed journal coupling with quality photos makes the trip report very informative. It seems I have followed your foot prints and e-hiked the trail.

I'm going there this week & may I ask you a few questions:
How many hours did you take from Prince Creek to Flick Creek?
Can the campground accommodate 5 2-pp tents?
How is the setting of Moore Point in comparison with Flick Creek?
Is there any campground between Flick Creek & Stehekin?

Any info you can share is very much appreciated!

Camony Yim

on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Hi Camony!

Wow, you're going to love the trail! I hope to be able to hike it again this year - definitely a favorite!

To answer your questions:

It's a long haul from Prince Creek to Flick Creek. 14 miles of constant climbing and descending. It's gorgeous, but tiring. I believe it took me eight hours. But I stop often to take photos.

The campground is really only intended for one or two small tents in the shelter... However, I believe there would be enough space in the area (and perhaps on the dock!) to arrange five small tents.

Moore Point is nice - approximately the same views - but it's not as secluded. Flick Creek is tucked away and all yours - if you can get it. That's the risk, of course. I don't recall an official campsite between Flick Creek and Stehekin - it seemed there were a couple small patches along the trail where people had previously improvised a site.

If you have a pair of radios, you may want to send someone with stronger legs to recon Flick Creek once you arrive at Moore Point. But if the Flick Creek camp is occupied, that poor person will need to hike back. I think it's about 2.5 miles between the two.

Alternatively, you may be able to have the Lady of the Lake drop off a weaker hiker or two (and maybe some of your gear) at Flick Creek, while the rest of you hike it. I'm not sure how this would work out with the boat's schedule - just a thought.

Good luck!


on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Thank you John for sharing your valuable experience & info with me. I've been longing to do this hike for 2 years & I really won't want to miss the beautiful weather this weekend.

All the best & happy hiking!

Camony from Vancouver, BC

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