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Trip Report    

Chelan Lakeshore Trail

Report for three-day Seattle Branch backpack May 13 - 15 from Prince Creek to Stehekin with six participants.

Trip successful and generally eventful except that we had to combine our 2nd and 3rd days of hiking into a single day because the Flick Creek campground was full. The existing group offered to let us squeeze in with them but we would have had tents side by side nearly touching, so we opted to continue on the remaining 3.4 miles to the end of the trail. Weather on Friday was sunny but very warm. Saturday cooler with high overcast which made for pleasant hiking. Sunday was warm with clear blue skies, which made for pleasant eating and drinking on the decks of various Stehekin proprietors.

Only 14 people (including our party) disembarked at Prince Creek, which we thought boded well for our ability to get the campgrounds we wanted given that the comfortable capacity of most the camps along the trail is 6 - 8 people each. We had Cascade Creek Camp to ourselves (and filled the tiny camp with our party of 6), but alas most of the 14 attempted to be at Flick Creek on the same night. We learned that on peak holiday weekends the number of backpackers disembarking at Prince Creek can be over 100 - the count was 123 on a recent Memorial Day Weekend - and that there can be significant overcrowding at the campsites so the trail is best visited midweek or on off-peak weekends.

Some notes on trail and camp conditions:

Trail in good condition all the way through. All water crossing were easy and straightforward except for Cascade Creek, which required a short log traversal that made some participants uncomfortable.

The route description on the Mountaineers website appears to significantly underreport the total elevation gain/loss for the trail. The website claims 1000’ total gain, whereas other sites on the web report 2000’, and tracing the route on Caltopo shows over 5000’ gain (which is probably too high).

There is a brand new box toilet at Cascade Creek camp that is on the other side of Cascade Creek from the campsite. The “Toilet” side on the SE edge of the camp appears to direct you over the creek - that is in fact what it is doing. To get to the new toilet one crosses the creek on a log immediately behind the sign, follows a short alongside the creek towards the lake, then switchbacks up the other side of a small hill.

There is a new campground in Stehekin! The new Lakeview Camp is located immediately at the northern terminus of the trail and offers running water, flush toilets, bear boxes, and picnic tables. It does not yet appear on any maps or online listings of area campsites. We stayed there Saturday night, and all was well. Note that this means “the campground in Stehekin ” no longer uniquely identifies a single camp, which caused confusion in our party when most of our party stopped at the Lakeview Camp but one experienced Lake Shore hiker went passed us and through town to the further Purple Point campground. Both sub-parties believed themselves to be in “the campground in Stehekin”.

The trail is in rattlesnake country. We saw two small snakes - one at the Prince Creek trailhead a few feet from where the ferry dropped us off, and another later that day in bushes immediately next to the trail. Neither showed any interest or alarm at us, but we gave them wide clearance nonetheless.

The trip is in bear country. We saw approximately 5 piles of bear scat directly on the trail, most very fresh, but saw no actual bears nor did we have any problems with our food in camp. We cooked away from our tents and hung our food.