Vast wilderness and a variety of wildlife, wild rivers and trickling streams, mountain meadows and alpine lakes. These are some of the natural trademarks of Leavenworth Washington located in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Well known for its Bavarian-themed downtown and Alps-looking mountainous surroundings, Leavenworth is also very popular with outdoor and recreation enthusiasts of all types. But you don’t have to be a skilled athlete or go very far from your car to escape the sounds of the city and enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Take a scenic drive along Icicle Creek Road that travels 25 miles into Icicle Canyon on the edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Drive as far as you’d like; you can easily get out to explore the area a little closer and turn around at one of the many campsites or trailhead parking areas along the way. The road follows alongside the Icicle River and there are multiple pull-offs with picturesque views of the towering canyon walls, jagged rocky peaks, and the winding river below. In the spring the hillsides along the roadway are covered with bright yellow Arrowleaf Balsamroot and a variety of other colorful native wildflowers like Indian Paintbrush, Lupine, and many types of lilies. In the fall, the deciduous trees in the canyon turn vibrant orange, yellow, and red.
Just a few blocks from downtown, enjoy an easy walk around Blackbird Island which is a haven for wildlife year-round and the canal that surrounds it fills with salmon twice a year. There are trails that follow the river, the canal, and that go right through the interior of the island, which was formed and utilized for a sawmill back in the old logging days. There are many beaches along the river and the canal that while popular for swimming on hot summer days, can be more private during the early spring or fall.
Another option to find some seclusion is Tumwater Canyon on the west end of town. There, Highway 2 travels alongside the Wenatchee River and, while there are several pullouts and small parking areas next to the road, you can cross the river at the Old Pipeline Bridge, locally referred to as the “Red Bridge” due to the look of this rusted iron structure. There’s a parking area right next to this pedestrian-only bridge and, once on the other side, the sounds of the roadway are drowned out by the thunderous roars of the turbulent river. Follow the trail along the river and find a nice spot for lunch while enjoying the sounds of the water rushing by and the wind blowing through the trees.
If you want to get a little further away and are willing to work for it, check out our Trails Page for area hiking, biking, and snowshoe trails which offer even more remoteness and the chance to be truly surrounded by nature for miles and miles.