Trip Report: Lakeshore Trail to Stehekin

The hike to Stehekin is a classic PNW hike. It’s a good early season hike, boasting of wildflowers, snow-capped mountain views, lakeside camping, and of course the final destination of Stehekin. A small village, Stehekin sites at the top of Lake Chelan. Though you will find cars in Stehekin, there are no roads connecting Stehekin to the rest of the world. The cars have been ferried there and are used on the short road that extends little more than a dozen miles on up the valley.

I was initially drawn into this hike after hearing about the Stehekin Pastry Company. Who doesn’t want to end a hike at a bakery?  But there is a lot more to do and see. You’ll find bike rentals, horse rides, kayaking, and plenty of nature to explore, like the spectacular Rainbow Falls. This charming little town is a great destination, with plenty to offer if you choose to extend your trip by a day or two.

Day 1: Prince Creek Trailhead to Moore Point (Lakeshore Trail #1247)

10.63 Miles
Elevation: +2837′ -2841′

Day 1 actually begins with a Ferry ride. See more info in the “Resources” section. For this hike, we picked up the Ferry at Field’s Point. This is just North of Lake Chelan State Park, a nice spot to spend the night ahead of Day 1 if you want to catch the earlier Ferry. And it also cuts a good 1:15 out of the ferry right. As you board the ferry, you will hand your backpack over to the crew who will stack it in a pile with others. So, be sure to take anything out of exterior pockets, anything that is clipped or hanging on your pack, and put it inside.

You’ll be departing the Ferry at the Prince Creek Trailhead, the next stop after Field’s Point. The ride will be about an hour and 15 minutes long, so find a seat and enjoy the views, they are spectacular!  Particularly early season when the mountains are still snow-capped and the balsamroot is in bloom!

Chelan Balsamroot

Chelan Balsamroot

The trail follows the shore, but is mostly well above it, for the length of the hike. While the elevation gain adds up to more than 2,800′, it’s a lot of small ups and downs and won’t feel nearly as noticeable as a straight climb of 2800′.

Keep your ear and eye out for Dusky Grouse. You may hear them all day and will hopefully even get to see them. Keep your ear tuned to rattlesnakes as well. They like to hike in some of the rocks near the trail and may even be out warming in the sun.  The only other early-season concerns are blowdowns and of course the sun. The early season can be deceiving. The air is cool, but the sun still burns quickly.

Otherwise, enjoy the splendid hike and the abundant wildflowers that won’t yet appear at the higher elevations for some months to come. When you reach the intersection with Fish Creek, the trail continues across a nice bridge. You will however take a side trail to the left (West) that leads down to Moore Point. There is ample camping at Moore Point.

Day 2: Moore Point to Stehekin

Distance: 7.45 Miles
Elevation: +1498′ -1472

Day 2 is quick and easy hiking, with fewer miles and less elevation gain than Day 1. This means you can lounge around a bit in camp, or get an early start to have plenty of time to reach Stehekin to explore (or hit the shop before it closes for a couple of bottles of wine!).

I am usually up and out of my tent pretty early. If I am backpacking with a group, I usually go for a short walk and enjoy breakfast away from camp so I don’t disturb others. Here at Moore Point, you don’t have to go far. There are a couple of docks that make for a great place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while taking in the views or watching the waterfowl play in the water.  This was a chilly morning so hot coffee was welcomed, but for breakfast, I tried a Bushka’s Kitchen Yogurt Bowl for the first time and it was amazing! Even if you don’t intend to cold-soak, the quality and the flavors of this Yogurt are simply outstanding. Highly recommended!

Bush's Kitchen Yogurt

Bush’s Kitchen Yogurt

Early Morning on Lake Chelan

Early Morning on Lake Chelan

As you begin hiking for the day, you’ll quickly gain a ridge for some of the most beautiful views of the hike, and then it’s a nice easy stroll the rest of the way into Stehekin.

Chelan Lakeshore View

Chelan Lakeshore View

About three miles from the bridge over Fish Creek you will see a path leading down to a shelter right on the lake. This is the Flick Creek Camp and while not quite large enough for a big group, it would be a fantastic spot (if available) for a small group. Very nice setting, with a dock that would be ideal for kayak camping!

As you approach Stehekin, you have a couple of options for camping. The first site you come upon is Lakeview Camp. It is spacious, with a nice group site, and good restrooms. But despite the name, not much in the way of views of the lake. The second camp is Purple Point. It’s actually closer to the lake, but right along the Stehekin Valley road.  I prefer Lakeview.

Lakeview Camp Map

Lakeview Camp Map

After you set up for camp, it’s time to explore Stehekin!

Day 2/3: Exploring Stehekin

There is no hiking on Day 3 with this itinerary. The Ferry left around 1pm so there was plenty of time to explore Stehekin. We arrived early enough on Day 2 to walk out to the bakery and head back to camp for dinner and wine. Day 3 started with another visit to the baker and a bike ride up to the beautiful rainbow falls.

The bakery (the Stehekin Pastry Company) is a highlight, for sure, and alone would make the trip worthwhile. It is great and I’m glad we made the effort to visit it twice as they have both very nice savory items (the Pesto, Mushroom, Onion and Swiss Croissant was amazing!) as well and really good breakfast treats. And they’ll box things up for the ferry ride home, so be sure to take some treats back with you.

Be sure to check their hours and plan accordingly. They are not open year-round and early season they may be keeping limited hours.  When we were there they were open only on weekends and were closing early (the staff was really great and stayed open a little later once they saw our large and hungry crew arrive).

Bakery Specials

Bakery Specials

Be aware that the bakery is not right in the little main town area of Stehekin. It’s more than 2 miles each way along Stehkin Valley road. Alternatively, just past the main town area, on the left, there is a self-service bike rental. Early season it is running on the honor system, just grab a bike and put your fee ($7/hr or $30/day) in a lock box. We found the bikes to be all in very good condition. There was an ample supply of bikes of all sizes as well as helmets.

Stehekin Bike Rental

Stehekin Bike Rental

There is a lot to explore and do around Steheking and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay another night to take it all in.

Details

Region: Lake Chelan. Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness (Mile 0 – 12.5), Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (Mile 12.5 – Stehekin)
Style: One Way Hike, Return via Ferry
Distance: 18 Miles
Elevation Gain: 4296
Duration: 3 Days, 2 Nights
Dogs: Allowed
Permits: None. 
Additional Notes: 
Ferry – See additional information below.
Date: 4/29/2022 – 5/01/2022

Area Map

Stehekin

Stehekin

Trail Overview

Day 1: Prince Creek TH to Moore Point

  • Trails: Lakeshore Trail #1247
  • 10.,63 Miles
  • Elevation: +2837′ -2841′

Elevation Profile (click to enlarge):

Stehekinday1

Stehekinday1

Day 2:  Moore Point to Stehekin

  • Trails: Lakeshore Trail #1247
  • 7.45 Miles
  • Elevation: +1498′ -1472

Elevation Profile (click to enlarge):

Stehekinday2

Stehekinday2

Day 3: See Ferry Details

Resources

More Information About Stehekin

Ferry Details

The starting point of this hike is only reachable by ferry and it has limited capacity. Plan ahead and pre-purchase your tickets!  The schedules vary by season, but you are generally want to look for the schedule for the “Lady Express” here:

You have choice of departure locations but I think Field’s Point is really nice as it cuts off some of the time on the ferry. At the time of this writing, the Lady Express is $43 EACH WAY.  The Lady of the Lake is less expensive, but it is slower and doesn’t operate year-round.

Note: Your ticket will show that it is from the Chelan Dock to Stehekin regardless of where you get on or off.  So even if you plan to get on at Field’s Point, the ticket will still read “Chelan to Stehekin” with boarding time in Chelan. You need to check the stop schedule to know what time to expect to board in Field’s Point.

Stehekin Ferry:  This is an alternative company to Lady of the Lake.  Lady of the Lake operations from Chelan and so begins the day there, offering an earlier pickup time in the southern part of the lake. Stehekin Ferry is based from and starts in Stehekin and so would be a good choice if you needed a later start to your day (or an earlier return on the way back).  Note as well that they not stop at Prince Creek year round.

Parking

There is a fee for overnight parking at Field’s Point (or Chelan). Be sure to check in at the ferry office when you arrive to pay for parking.  At the time of this writing, the fee is $7/night.

Maps

Green Trails: North Cascades / Lake Chelan, WA No. 114SX

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