Wanderlust in Washington; Adventure to Colchuck Lake

Wanderlust in Washington; Adventure to Colchuck Lake

If you are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, Colchuck Lake and Leavenworth is arguably one of the most beautiful and Best Kept Secrets in Washington! With farmers markets, breweries, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, gorgeous views, and a Bavarian-style village, it is definitely a must see! My daughter and I felt that we needed to give Colchuck Lake and Leavenworth a blog of its own since it was our favorite hike on our Pacific Northwest road trip adventure.

In summer 2019, my daughter and flew out to Washington with no set agenda except exploring our bucket-list destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Seeing all the National Parks is on my bucket-list so we made sure to check-off Glacier National Park, Mt Rainier National Park and Banff National Park of Canada. As the 2 weeks were coming to an end we still had a few more days to fill before flying out of Seattle, WA. We thought we had seen the best hikes that Washington had to offer so we were overjoyed when we asked several locals while in Spokane, WA if they had only one day to spend around the area, where would it have been?

Several people suggested that we head to Leavenworth, a Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains. This charming Hallmark-like town has Alpine-style buildings and shops nestled among a beautiful backdrop of mountains. The Main Street had numerous inviting restaurants, and we hardly recognized the gas stations because they too, were decorated so cute. We found an adorable hotel on hotels.com. 

The town is magical, and it felt like we were in “The Sound of Music”We can still hear the
words…”The Hills are alive….with the sound of music”…. I can only
imagine how romantic and festive this place would be during the Christmas season.  We only planned staying here one night but we wished we stayed longer.  Also, little did we know that
our favorite hike would also be right near the town.

As soon as we got to Leavenworth, we got lucky and saw signs and banners advertising that the local farmer’s market was going on that day which was a real added treat for us.   It was nice to meet all the local farmers and sample their bountiful produce.  We enjoyed fresh delicious Washington cherries, local honey, teas, and coffees. 

We then found an awesome cider house called Leavenworth Cider House.  They had a diverse selection of ciders ranging from local, regional, and global ciders.  We each got a flight so we could try as many as we could!  We also got a Bavarian pretzel as big as your head! The pretzel melted in our mouths and was perfectly paired with the ciders.  The staff was so friendly and knowledgeable.  We started talking with one of the bartenders as to where should we hike in the morning and she recommended Colchuck Lake.

 The Colchuck Lake trail via Stuart Lake Trail is rated as a difficult hike and is 7.7 miles.  It mostly requires a constant incline climb with a 2,280-elevation gain. Every step of the hike has beautiful sights to see and enjoy.

  We followed creeks, crossed log footbridges, scrambled up boulder fields, and enjoyed seeing a beautiful waterfall. The grand finale will always be etched into our memory. 

Nothing is more breathtaking when you finally round the corner at the top and you see the lake.  The icy blue waters and the two peaks are called Dragontail and Colchuck.  They offer great photo opportunities.  Colchuck is derived from Chinook Jargon meaning ‘cold water’.  Our hiking day was chilly but I envisioned swimming in this icy water on a hot day.  It was the perfect day for our picnic and our mother daughter long talks in the warm sunshine. Indeed, a lifetime memory was made.

If you have energy left after the incline and boulder scrambling, you can also opt to extend the hike by adding an additional trek to Stuart Lake on the way down.  We were pretty whipped so we added that to our future bucket list for when we have more time. 

Gypsy Mama Bear tips:

·        Bring lots of water

·        Get to the parking lot early (the roads to the trailhead are QUITE bumpy)

·        There is a $5 fee you pay at the trailhead

·        There are campsites along the lakeshore but camping permits are required

·        Bring bug spray!

Do you reward yourself with a special treat after a hard workout?  Maybe a protein bar? Ice cream? Ice cold beer?  Of course, when we complete a huge hike we head straight for the local brewery!  We found the Icicle Brewing Company back in Leavenworth, WA. We sat on the cute outdoor patio that had great views of the city and foothills, relaxed, and clinked our flight glasses to “Cheers” to us for making it to the top of such a glorious mountain! We loved our much-deserved flight!

Leavenworth, WA is already on our return bucket-list.  We do plan to return someday to visit their Oktoberfest and Christmas during the holidays.  We would also love to enjoy a winter there and go during snow season for back country alpine skiing.  We would love for you to try out our Colchuck hike and give us your feedback.  Also, we would love for you to send us some of your favorite hikes so that we may try and enjoy them as well!

Be still and know that I am with you. Psalm 46:10

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Find the joy in the journey

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