Hiking in the Sunshine, Cle Elum

THIS IS HOW WE DO: Hiking in the Sunshine

The sunshine is out, the birds are singing and the views from Cle Elum's trails are more beautiful than ever. With the return of the warm weather, it is time once again to hit the trails and experience what Mother Nature has to offer. If you are looking to bring out your inner mountaineer, then check out some of these scenic hikes in the Cle Elum area.

THIS IS HOW WE DO: Viewpoints at Red Top Lookout

The Red Top Lookout trail is located 40 minutes outside of Cle Elum but the drive and hike are worth time and effort. To get to the trailhead, hikers will have to take the forest road off US 97; the road is a little rough but most cars should be able to tough it out if the mud isn't too bad. There is parking at the trailhead and a vault toilet for those untimely, full bladders. The structure at the top still functions as a fire lookout post that hikers can go in and experience what the firewatchers see every day. Be prepared, the 360-degree views of Stewart Range, Teanaway Ridge and several mountains nearby will take your breath away. Take a moment to take in the beauty of the wildflowers and ripe berries that can be found along the trail. Not only can you enjoy the wildflowers and berries, but this trail really rocks, literally, with agate beds and thunder eggs found throughout the trail (Keep an eye out for the elusive Ellensburg Blue Agate). This short, but steep 1.5 roundtrip trail means you can get to the top faster and spend more time exploring, enjoying the views, rock hounding, or photographing the wildflowers.

THIS IS HOW WE DO: Exploration at Swauk Forest Discovery Trail

If you and your little ones (or maybe just you) want to get out and explore nature, then the Swauk Forest Discovery trail is the trail for you. Not only is this a trail, it is also a chance to learn more about the surrounding forest and what the Forest Service does to maintain it. The Swauk Forest Discovery Interpretive Site is located at the beginning of the trail and provides visitors with information about the trail as well as parking and a bathroom. Hikers can pick up brochures at the center for a guided tour of the trail. Along the trail, hikers will find signs that identify different trees and plants in the area. (Psst... It is rumored that there is a tree that smells like butterscotch somewhere around the 8th marker, can you find it?) Visitors can park at the Interpretive Site and pay $5 for a day pass to get out there and explore.

THIS IS HOW WE DO: Day Trips on Iron Bear Trail

Over the river and through the woods on Iron Bear Trail we go. This trek is not for people looking for an easy hike in the woods; Iron Bear Trail is nearly seven miles long through forests, over creeks and up hills. Make sure that you pack all the essentials including water, hiking poles and plenty of trail mix as this trip may take all day. But hikers will be treated to beautiful views of Iron and Bear Creek valleys and the countryside as the trail descends to the trailheads. Flower lovers will love this trail as it is covered in wildflowers throughout the hiking season. This trail has wildflowers galore! Flower lovers can enjoy finding balsamroot, penstemon, paintbrush, and forget-me-nots along the trail. Iron Bear Trail can be accessed at two different trailheads in case you decide that you want to change it up a little bit. The easiest side to get to from Cle Elum is the Bear Creek Trailhead which is located on Forest Road 9714. Don't forget your sunscreen for this trip, even though parts of the trail are shaded there are areas with lots of sun so make sure you get your noses covered. This trail is also open for motorized use from October to April so if you hike during those times pay attention to other people one the trail. The parking lot is a bit of a trek to get to so cars that aren't built for off-roading may want to stay home.

Posted: May 1st, 2018

Back to Cle Elum Blog

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