Elephant Head

Chelan, Washington
Elephant Head
Length : 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain : 1200 ft.
If you stare at Chelan Butte during one of the many clear days in Chelan, imagine the Butte as an elephant's back, the ridges coming down are the legs, and of course the small knoll to the looker’s left is the head, hence the name. Elephant Head offers a great moderate hike, steadily ascending up the Butte with sweeping views of Lake Chelan and the city of Chelan, and wildflowers in the Spring. Accessing this hike is a breese, with the trailhead being mere minutes away from Chelan.

Directions

From Chelan, take the Sanders Street Bridge across the river and take your first left on E Farnham Ave, which turns into Saunders St. Turn left onto E Iowa St, and you will see the parking lot on your left in .2 miles.

Parking

There is a decent sized paved parking lot at the Chelan Butte trailhead with a bathroom. The parking lot also serves the Reach One trail, but finding a parking spot is rarely, if ever, and issue. The Chelan Butte trailhead is across the road; not to be confused with the Reach One trail, which is directly off the parking lot next to the signage. No permits or fees required to park.
 

October 8, 2021 Trip Report

 
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.
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
Morning sun on the hillside
Bench for a rest
Bench for a rest
First view of Lake Chelan
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
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
Color near Elephant Head
On the way to Elephant Head
On the way to Elephant Head
Sun rising above the ridge
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
Chelan Butte and Elephant Head trail junction
Columbia River from Elephant Head
Columbia River from Elephant Head
Lake Chelan 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
Paraglider going down the mountain
More views of Lake Chelan on the way down
More views of Lake Chelan on the way down
Looking back up at Elephant Head
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! My photos on Flickr My GPS track (partial)