October 8, 2021
Type : hike
Length : 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain : 1,190 ft.
High Point : 2,300 ft.
My son was off from school on Friday, and we needed to be in Lake Chelan to do a walk through of our roughed-in electrical and plumbing in our house on Friday afternoon, so we decided to head to Chelan Thursday night. The weather was looking good for the weekend, so I decided to get up early and do the Elephant Head hike prior to work on Friday. It was pretty chilly in the morning, upper 30’s, at least for a West Sider like me, but the sun came out and it was a perfect morning for a hike around Lake Chelan.
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I forgot to turn on my GPS tracking until part way up the trail... I caught my first view of Lake Chelan, and was checking my watch to see how long it took, when I realized I hadn’t started my hike on my Garmin watch. Oh well… The trail up is easy to follow. You start on a jeep trail, and then a sign directs you to cut over through a small ravine and hook up with another jeep trail.
Morning sun on the hillside
Bench for a rest
First view of Lake Chelan
The first mile is basically straight up hill. You’ll pass a couple of benches providing a nice spot to catch your breath and take in the views. I was feeling pretty good during the hike, and given the cold morning weather, there wasn’t a need nor opportunity for me to stop.
Heading up to Elephant Head
I passed some nice color near where the trail moderates in steepness and begins the traverse East. As I continued along the sun finally rose above the ridge. I had warmed up from the hike, but was looking forward to the extra warmth from the sun.
Color near Elephant Head
On the way to Elephant Head
Sun rising above the ridge
I finally reached the junction where the trail continues up to the right onto Chelan Butte. I thought about pressing on but didn’t have the time to add on an extra four miles to the hike. So I turned left and made the short hike up to Elephant Head. There was a couple there who had caught the sunrise and were enjoying a cup of coffee while taking in the views. I could see Lake Chelan, Chelan River and the Columbia River from the top. I only spent a couple of minutes at the top and then descended back to the car, snapping a couple of pics along the way.
Chelan Butte and Elephant Head trail junction
Columbia River from Elephant Head
Lake Chelan from Elephant Head
On the way down, a paraglider went flying by. I tried to whip out my iPhone and quickly catch a photo when the paraglider was close, but I couldn't make it happen. By the time I got the camera rolling, he or she was a ways down the mountain.
Paraglider going down the mountain
More views of Lake Chelan on the way down
Looking back up at Elephant Head
Great morning hike very close to downtown Chelan - it's worth noting that this is not an official trail, despite the signage and benches, so please respect the trail and property. And you always have the option to extend the hike on up to Chelan Butte if you are feeling adventurous!