Trip Number: 12241A
Staff: Robert Goldstein
- Hike Washington's remote Stehekin Valley
- Explore breathtaking gorges, waterfalls, and sub-alpine basins
- Relax at night in a comfy lodge
- All on-trip meals
- Accommodations in a rustic lodge
- All transport within the valley
Photo: Bob Goldstein
The Stehekin Valley provided the area's earliest inhabitants with a passage
through the North Cascade Mountains. To reach this remote place, you'll travel
along glacier-carved Lake Chelan, the largest natural lake in Washington and
the second deepest in the country. (From ridgetop to lake bed, this is the deepest
gorge in the country.)
The mountainous region surrounding the Stehekin Valley and the north end of Lake Chelan is so outstanding that it merits three wilderness areas, two national recreation areas, and a national park. The valley is only accessible by foot, boat, or floatplane, which keeps it both peaceful and barely developed.
We will stay in tent cabins at the Courtney family's Stehekin Valley Ranch, a rustic resort located near the Stehekin River. The resort is nine miles up the valley from Stehekin and the head of the lake. The trip is timed to coincide with the arrival of fall colors. In late-September, the heather and vine willows turn vibrant red and orange. The Stehekin River is bright with the orange of Kokanee, an unusual species of inland salmon found in the North Cascades that spawns in September. Black bears, rummaging around for the last season's berries or fishing along the Stehekin River, are a common sight, as are black-tailed deer, picas, and marmots.
The trip begins in the morning on Sunday, Sept. 23 at the boat landing in Chelan. Trip leaders will be stationed at the dock to check in participants and distribute boat tickets. Your fare is included in the price of the trip. After the trip up Lake Chelan, the longest inland fjord in the U.S., a van or valley bus will pick us up at the landing and transport us to the ranch.
Each day we will take a valley shuttle bus or van to a different trailhead for a day hike. Hikes will include trips to 312-foot Rainbow Falls, the impressive chasm of Agnes Gorge, and the glorious views of glacier-clad peaks and autumn-hued mountainside from the shoulder of 8,000-foot McGregor Mountain. Hikes range in length from six to 12 miles. Other activities that are not part of our trip, but are available, include mountain biking and kayaking.
The last meal at the ranch will be breakfast on the last trip day, and bag lunches will be available for the trip home. Participants will depart from Stehekin, arriving at Chelan in late afternoon.
Photo: Bob Goldstein
Chelan is equidistant from Seattle and Spokane (3.5 hours by car). You should plan to stay overnight in the Chelan vicinity the night before the trip. The trip leaders and Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce (800-4-CHELAN) can help with travel and lodging information.
In addition, trip leaders will disseminate information about other participants who are interested in participating in carpools from the Seattle area.
Accommodations and Food
The cabins at the Stehekin Valley Ranch vary in size, sleeping two, three, or four people. Showers and flush toilets are available at the ranch's main building. Meals are served family-style in the ranch dining hall, which also serves as a local restaurant. The food is homemade, ample, and delicious. The pies alone make the long journey to Stehekin worth taking! Trip members will not have any cooking chores.
All meals, accommodations, and transportation within the valley to our day hikes are included in the trip price.
Trails in the area range from flat or gently rolling terrain to an ascent of up to 5,000-foot elevation gains. All hikes are optional. Distances will be determined by the leader, depending on the interests, abilities, and interests of the group. Please let the leaders know if you have any medical problems, serious allergies, or dietary restrictions that should be noted ahead of the trip. Minimum age for this trip is 21.
Equipment and Clothing
Each cabin has beds, with pillows and blankets. Bring your own bed sheets and towel, or have the ranch supply them for a daily fee, payable directly to the ranch upon departure. The weather in late September can be variable -- warm and pleasant, or cool and rainy with some snow at the higher elevations. Daytime temperatures usually range from the low 50s to the high 70s. Night temperatures can dip into the high 30s. Bring a good day pack, hiking gear, quality broken-in hiking boots, raingear, walking sticks, and clothing that can be layered. The leader will provide a packing list to registered participants.
Photo: Bob Goldstein
- Trails Illustrated 1:100,000 topographic map (metric): "North Cascades National Park Complex." An excellent map of the area; available from Trails Illustrated, Box 4357, Evergreen, CO 80437-4357; (800) 962-1643 or (303) 670-3457.
- Green Trails maps: " McGregor Mountain #81," and "Stehekin #80."
- Darvill, Fred T., A Guide to the Enchanted Valley.
- McConnell, Grant, Stehekin: A Valley in Time. A nice remembrance
of life in Stehekin, post-World War II.
- Darvill, Fred T., Hiking the North Cascades.
- Spring, Ira, and Harvey Manning, 101 Hikes in the North Cascades.
The Green Trails maps, Trails Illustrated maps, and some books (including Stehekin: A Guide to the Enchanted Valley) are usually available in Stehekin and at the Valley Ranch. Additional maps, books, and other material about the natural history and resources of the area are available at the National Park Service Visitor Center in Stehekin, and through the Pacific Northwest National Parks and Forests Association.
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from North Cascades National Park.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Bob Goldstein has been a member of the Sierra Club since 1989 and was recognized as one of the club's outstanding national leaders in 2010. A longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, he has hiked, biked, cross-country skied, and kayaked extensively throughout the region and in Alaska, and maintains a strong interest in regional transportation and conservation issues. He is a graduate of the American Alpine Institute, and has climbed Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Baker. In addition to his interest in the Pacific Northwest, his hiking and biking travels have taken him to India, Nepal, New Zealand, Iceland, China, Vietnam, and Bhutan. A writer, Bob's recently published second book, Riding with Reindeer: A Bicycle Odyssey through Finland, Lapland and Arctic Norway, describes an epic solo bicycle trip taken in 2007.
Bill Shecket has been leading trips for Sierra Club National Outings for the last 15 years. He first visited the North Cascades on a backpack in 1995 and returns regularly to lead lodge and paddle trips. Bill lives in Seattle, where he teaches at City University. Bill helps train new outings leaders, hikes and paddles whenever he gets an opportunity, and is eager to share his love for the area with others.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips