There is a wide variety of Lake Chelan hikes in the Chelan Valley, from hikes with amazing views of the lake, family friendly hikes along the Chelan and Columbia Rivers to remote hikes where you will unlikely encounter another soul.
When I first started hiking in the area, it seemed like there weren't a lot of options, however that is definitely not the case. The Lake Chelan trails don't see nearly as many visitors as trails in the Puget Sound, and information about hikes near Lake Chelan can be sparse. But have no hear, with the help of this guide and a little bit of planning, you will be able to find the perfect hike for your next adventure around Lake Chelan. Read on below for some of my favorite hikes near Lake Chelan, or use the Lake Chelan hiking map to locate the best Lake Chelan trails in the area.
The shoulder seasons of fall and spring are often the best time for Lake Chelan Hiking, as the temperatures are usually more moderate than the summer months, and the snow from the winter has usually melted by spring, at least at lower elevations. The spring also offers a chance to hike through wildflowers, with flowers coming into bloom starting in early April. Lake Chelan hikes at higher elevations may still have snow in March and April, but by May, all but the highest of peaks in the area will be snow free. What fall lacks for in wildflowers it makes up for with crisp fall days and additional color with the turning leaves. There are even stands of Larch in the Chelan area, although they require quite a trek to see.
Hitting the Lake Chelan trails in the summer is certainly doable, and can be very enjoyable as long as you are prepared for the high temperatures. Hiking in the morning hours can ensure you get out before it really heats up. On all but the hottest of summer days, the clear sky allows it to cool down at night, and summer mornings can be a perfect time to get out. While the temps were hitting 105F last summer, I was able to have an enjoyable hike around Echo Ridge with my parents and their dogs. But I wouldn't have wanted to do that same hike in the afternoon. Also, getting up at higher elevation can help with the temps.
In the winter months, it's common to have snow on the ground, with the chances of encountering snow increasing at higher elevations. You may be able to find a time during winter when the snow has receded, but don't count on it, and if you are visiting in the winter time you may want to bring your snowshoes! Use the Lake Chelan hiking map to find low elevation hikes.
When I first started hiking around Lake Chelan, I gravitated towards hikes that provided views of the lake. It's the prime reason people come to the area in the summer months, and I don't know if I will ever tire of staring at the lake. Below are some of my favorite lake Chelan Hikes that deliver on the views!
At almost 8 miles and 2,700ft of vertical gain, you earn your views on this hike. You will first catch glimpses of the lake in under a mile, and the views keep getting better as you climb. Throw in bonus views of the Columbia River, and you have one of the best hikes in Chelan Valley. If tackling this hike in the summer, consider going in the morning, as there is no shade from the sun. If you are looking for a hike that is less strenuous, cut this hike short and turn around at Elephant Head. More Info
Elephant Head, so named because the terminus of the hike looks like an elephant's head, is a great four mile hike just outside of downtown Chelan, with stunning views of the city of Chelan and the lake. This hike takes you up through the open slopes of Chelan Butte, and provides no shade from the sun, but makes for a great late spring hike to catch the wildflowers in bloom. If the four miles and 1,200ft of vertical aren't enough, consider extending the hike up to the top of Chelan Butte. More Info
If you are into hikes with lake views, don't let the unassuming trail head nor lack of a parking lot dissuade you from hiking Fourth of July Mountain. It's a short hike, albeit with a steady uphill cadence, that delivers amazing views of Lake Chelan, and its supporting cast of other lakes. You will park by Antilon Lake and within the first mile, you will be able to see the four lakes : Roses, Dry, Wapato and Chelan. Upon reaching the summit in a little over 1.5 miles, you can venture a couple of hundred yards north to have sweeping views up-lake. Definitely one of the better hikes in the area, and it doesn't see a lot of traffic. More Info
Located next to Fourth of July Mountain, this unofficial hike along an old forest service road eschews the vertical gain of its neighbor but still delivers on the views. Accessing the hike is a little tricky, and requires either a small amount of route finding from Antilon Lake Campground, parking on Grade Creek Road and adding some extra mileage or driving down the Antilon Spur forest service road. But if you are up for a little adventure, this is a fun and quick hike that you will likely have to yourself. More Info
Stormy Mountain is one of the taller peaks in the area, clocking in at just under 7,200ft and is visible from Chelan and Manson. Hence, I was surprised to learn this hike is only a 3.6 mile round trip hike with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. While you are set farther back from the lake than hikes like Elephant Head and Fourth of July, this hike still provides great views of Lake Chelan. Add in the fact that the northern slope of Stormy Mountain is covered in Larch Trees, and you have the perfect fall hike to admire both the lake and the golden larches. The only catch? The Windy Saddle Trailhead is a 16 mile drive on Forest Service roads, with the last 5 miles being especially bumpy. More Info
The Pot Peak trail is roughly 9 miles long one way before connecting into the Devil's Backbone trail. However Pot Peak itself is situated in the midpoint of the trail, and provides a good turning around point in the hike, unless of course you are wanting to do an 18 miler! This area was affected by the Twenty-Five Mile Creek fire in 2021, and you will be hiking through a burn area, although some parts of the forest escaped the worst of the fire. While you won't get sweeping views of Lake Chelan, once you make your way up past the numerous switchbacks, you will be treated to some limited views of Lake Chelan. And if you hike this trail in the spring, you may even find some fresh morel mushrooms. More Info
The Tootsie Roll trail at Echo Ridge is a nice mellow 1 mile trail accessed from the Lower Echo Ridge Trailhead, and you will get limited views of Lake Chelan around the halfway point, where the trail loops around the mountain. While this doubles as a mountain bike trail, it is fairly wide and doesn't often see many riders. The Tootsie Roll trail can be combined with the Lolly Pop trail for an additional half mile, making a nice loop. More Info
There are a number of moderate Lake Chelan hikes in the area that are suitable for families with younger children. All the hikes listed below have been "kid tested" by my now 8 year old son over the last couple of years. Only the hikes he gives a thumbs up to appear in this Lake Chelan hiking guide!
Chelan Riverwalk is a perfect trail to take the family on. Clocking in at 1.2 miles with very little elevation gain, you will cross two bridges and get to walk along both sides of the Chelan River. There are a number of places you can stop along the way to take a short break, and the trail also features a sign for each planet in our solar system. Throw in some ducks, sculptures and a raised wooden platform, and it's sure to be a hit with the kid. And best of all, the trail is right in the city of Chelan. More Info
The Little Bear trail is a 2.3 mile loop accessed from within Lake Chelan State Park with less than 250 feet of elevation gain. If you are not camping at the park, you will need a Discover Pass to enter the park. The trail goes through a cool tunnel underneath South Lakeshore Road, has views of Lake Chelan and features a couple of benches on the loop for a well deserved break. A good portion of the hike is through forest, providing some shade on hotter days. More Info
The Reach One trail is a relatively new addition to Chelan, having been completed in 2010. It starts off near the Chelan Boat Launch by the bridge, follows the street for a bit, and then a paved trail passes by the dam with a couple of signs providing information about the dam and Chelan. The trail passes through the Chelan Butte trailhead and parking lot, and many folks choose to simply park here and skip the first part of the hike, shaving off a mile or so from the 3 mile round trip. From here on, it is a nice wide gravel trail and takes you down to the Chelan River, where you follow the trail along the shore before reaching the end and retracing your steps. More Info
Whoop Di Do is a 1 mile kid friendly loop at Echo Ridge with minimal elevation gain and is accessed via the Lolly Pop Trail. It passes through a mixture of forest and open meadows and often has wildflowers in bloom during the late spring and early summer. You will park at the Lower Echo Ridge Trailhead, which does require a northwest forest pass or a $5 fee for parking. More Info
The Beebe Springs Wildlife Area has a number of interconnected trails throughout the 207 acre park that sits on the bank of the Columbia River and is one of the better areas to hike near Lake Chelan. The trails are well marked and in addition to views of the Columbia River, there are a number of steel sculptures, interpretive signs and a fish pond, called Buddy's Pond, where children under 12 can fish for free. A discover pass is required to enter the park. More Info