Monday, June 21, 2010

Chiwawa River, Plain, Washington

 Twin Lakes, Glacier Peak Wilderness

 Backroads Destination:  Chiwawa River Valley

The Chiwawa River on the Wenatchee National Forest is one of those areas that harken back to the days when National Forests were uncrowded, with small campgrounds and lots of trails for hiking and exploring.   There are plenty of boondock campsites for those that prefer the privacy of a dispersed campsite.

The Chiwawa River is closed to fishing to protect endangered fish.  The recreation use in the drainage is probably less today than it was 25 years ago.  The attractions are still there.  The great scenery and the trails are there and the camping is just as fine or better than 25 years ago.  If you are a fisherman there are probably other places to explore.

The trails take center stage in the Chiwawa River Valley, but camping is a close second.  Download the trails map below for directions on how to get to the valley.

The hiking trails lead in the Glacier Peak Wilderness established in 1964.  This a world class Wilderness Area with many spectacular hikes.

Our recommendation is to take the short five mile hike to Spider Meadows.  Here in a fairly short hike with little elevation gain that takes you right into the heart of the Cascades.  Be sure to hike through the meadow and up to Spider Glacier.  There are several stream crossing that could be "interesting" in early season.  If you are not a seasoned hiker it might be well worth to wait until August to attempt this hike.  A Northwest Forest Pass or one of the discount passes is required to park at the trailheads.

Another hike is to Twin Lakes.  The trail from the Chiwawa River side is fairly flat and a easy hike.  You can also hike into Twin Lakes from the White River side.

If you prefer some assistance in your trail travels this area offers world class horse, mountain biking, and single track motorcycle trails.  The mountain bike and motorcycle trails are, of course, outside the Glacier Peak Wilderness.  These trails are also popular with hikers and horse users.   Here is the link to the Forest Service brochure on trails in the area:  Chiwawa River Trails Brochure .  If you are a mountain biker or ORV rider, you owe it to yourself to ride the trails in the area.

The access road starts out as two lane paved, shift to one lane paved with inter-visible turnouts, and finally becomes just plain dirt.  Here is the information on  inter-visible turnouts:  Driving backroads and inter-visible turnouts.

There are plenty of boondock locations and campgrounds in the Chiwawa River area.  The campgrounds are all $10/ night.  Most are limited to trailers less than 30 foot, with the exception of Goose Creek, Grouse Creek Group Camp and Chiwawa Horse Camp.  Goose Creek is popular with the ORV crowd, so if you do not like motorcycles take a pass on this one.  The only sites with water are Goose Creek, Finner Creek and the Chiwawa Horse Camp.

Here is the Forest Service web page with the campground information:  Chiwawa River Campground Information.

Now the Chiwawa River is somewhat remote, but that all important dinner out while camping can be found nearby.  In this case, we recommend that you switch from dinner to Sunday brunch.  The Mountain Spring Lodge serves a great Sunday brunch.  Here is their menu:  Mountain Spring Lodge Menu.

The Chiwawa River area of the Wenatchee National Forest.  One great boondock destination.

photo courtesy USDA Forest Service.


Denise said...

We just tripped down memory lane this weekend, camping at Schafer Creek on the Chiwawa and it was much like I remember as a kid. Thanks for the details on how to get out there and for inspiring me to reconnect with my family's recreational history. We're going to use your blog to explore other areas in WA as we love the boondocking as opposed to the overcrowded popular and loud sites that are nearby.


Marina said...

Hi Denise. Did you camp at Schafer Creek campgrounds or at a dispersed site? Any info is very much appreciated.