Hiking Icicle Ridge in Leavenworth, Washington
Views & Brews
The popular Bavarian town of Leavenworth has a lot to do and see. From the many year-round festivals like Octoberfest and Maifest to the downtown area and its waterfront attractions, there’s always something to do here. During this visit, we opted for a hike on Icicle Ridge and a brew afterward at Icicle Brewing Company.
The Icicle Ridge trailhead is located a little over a mile south of Leavenworth on the right side of Icicle Road. There is a small sign on the side to mark the way to a parking area. It was Memorial Day weekend, around 11AM on Sunday when we arrived. Parking along the side road entrance was a mess. This was a very narrow road with logging trucks parked to the side and vehicles scattered about on both sides. There was one spot where we could barely drive through; however, we did manage to make it to the loop where there were plenty of places to park.
With the vehicle in a proper spot, and our gear loaded up, we set out on our journey. The trailhead sign asked us to register, by signing the guest book, and to read a few rules and check area conditions reported by previous hikers. We did just that and off we went.
The trail began a steady climb within the trees, which provided us the shade we needed on this 80+ degree day. Along the path were flowers like balsamroot, lupine, and mariposa lily. As we continued our climb, the trees to our right opened up a bit to provide views of the lower Icicle Creek Valley. Downed trees from a fire in the recent past perfumed the air with the scent of pine resin in the heat of the day. There was not much of a breeze, but the bright day and expanding views urged us upward.
As this was a holiday weekend, and the fact that we had a late start, we found the trail to be somewhat crowded. One thing we noticed was the lack of trail etiquette. Rarely did those coming down stop off to the side for us or even attempt to move over a little more to their side of the trail. We assumed since Leavenworth is a popular tourist destination, and that the trailhead is very close to town, that most of these people were inexperienced hikers and knew nothing of trail etiquette. One group did make up for all the others, this was a group of 10-15 children. As soon as the first in line saw us, he yelled out to the rest of them, and they all stopped immediately and moved as far off the trail as they possibly could. As we passed them, a lot of them gave us words of encouragement and let us know that we were doing a good job! We thanked them and told the adult trailing the group we were appreciative.
Continuing our trek, the trees thinned more, and the sun beat down upon us. It was getting hot. The route has a series of about 20 switchbacks and the more we rounded, the steeper they felt. We took photo and water breaks often. We passed by others while they were taking a break and they passed us again later on while we rested. This sort of leap-frogging happened all the way to the top.
As we ascended, the views of the valley below opened further. We could see Icicle Creek down below and out into the town itself. It was a clear day and views of the mountains in the distance were beautiful.
We made it to the top where the trail splits. Heading left would continue up and along Icicle Ridge where the path goes on for nearly 30 miles. We made a right at the junction to lead to the end of the ridge with a great overlook. The trail along this section is delightfully lined with large swathes of lupine and balsamroot. Bees and butterflies danced playfully from flower to flower. Overhead turkey vultures circled effortlessly on an updraft, their dark silhouettes stark against the near cloudless, blue skies.
One thing to note was the complete lack of shade at the end. We stayed for only about 10 minutes to gather some photos and take in the views. From this viewpoint, there were waterfalls, the Wenatchee river, mountains and views of towns below. We retreated to the nearest shaded area, sat and enjoyed lunch before heading back down.
Conclusion & Brewery
This is a great hike which maintains an average of a 10 percent grade all the way up. The views up top are panoramic and lovely. Being so close to town, the trail is conveniently located to restaurants, pubs, and shopping.
We recently received a copy of Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest from our friends, Beers at the Bottom. In it is parings of hikes and breweries. Icicle Ridge and Icicle Brewing Company were one of the 50 hikes and breweries in this wonderful book. This trail and brewery recommendation were excellent suggestions! We’ll have a review of the book coming up soon!
Update 06/08/2018: Here's our review of Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest!
Helpful Information & Links
Coordinates: 47.568774, -120.680720
Trail Length: 5.1 Miles Roundtrip
Pass Required: None
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