Pot Peak lies in the Twenty File Mile Creek area off of Lake Chelan, and was the site of a burn during the summer of 2021. The trail provides a nice steady climb up through the forest, large parts of which were destroyed or partially destroyed during the fire. Higher up are splendid views of Lake Chelan and the Chelan Mountains, including Devil's Backbone and Stormy Mountain. You may need to double check your map to determine when you have reached Pot Peak, as it is really just a high point along the ridge, and the trail keeps on going to Devil's Backbone. The road to Pot Peak is paved until the last half mile, with that section being in good shape.
Venturing up 25 Mile Creek and exploring hikes in the area has been on my todo list. Last year while spending August in Manson, we watched a plume of smoke quickly develop uplake, which turned out to be the 25 Mile Creek fire. Needless to say, that put an end to any hopes of hiking in that area. A year later, it was time to check out the area and witness the damage caused by the burn.
Information on hikes in the area are fairly limited. The WTA website indicated the trail may be in rough shape with fire damage and blowdowns, although work was scheduled for May and June on the trail. I drove along the South Shore not knowing what to expect, figuring I would encounter some difficult trail conditions and not make it very far.
The drive to the trailhead was very easy. It's pavement all the way except for the last half mile, which is a nicely maintained dirt road. The trailhead was in nice shape, with a bathroom, small parking area and good signage. There was a notice at the trailhead indicating it was a burn area, and also indicating use was not recommended to protect the trail tread until work was done.
I had no idea what trail tread meant, and for a second contemplated turning around. I decided to proceed, and figured I would turn around if I felt like I was causing problems with the “trail tread”. The trail quickly ascended and at my first switchback it all made sense. The trail tread was cinder block buried into the trail. I remembered reading that this trail was used by dirt bikers, and the trail tread was likely in place to prevent them from chewing up the trail.
There was obvious fire damage all along the hike, but certain places were certainly worse hit. The trail was in great shape, with lots of evidence of trail work having recently taken place - there were a number of fresh blowdowns cut along the trail.
Eventually the switchbacks mellowed out, and while the trail steadily climbed upwards, it was at a less relentless pace. I noticed a large bird standing in the new spring grass, and was surprised it didn’t fly away as I hiked by. I heard a bunch of chirping, and looking down, realized there were a bunch of baby birds scattering through the grass. Momma obviously didn’t want fly away and leave her chicks all alone.
Continuing up I passed through completely burned areas, and eventually got high enough to start catching some views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. The contrast of the burn against the Spring green was quite striking. The wet and cool Pacific Northwest spring resulted in the Chelan area being a lot greener than I have seen the last couple of years.
Hiking along, I noticed some mushrooms on the side of the trail, and I was pretty sure they were Morel mushrooms. Ever since I read a book about foraging in the Northwest, I kept telling myself I would learn about mushrooms and find some on my hikes. Well, here was my opportunity. I decided to leave them be, as I wasn’t 100% sure they were Morel, and I wasn’t exactly sure how I would cook them if they were edible. Next year!
Eventually I caught views of some snow covered mountains in the distance, and shortly thereafter, I reached the ridge. I saw another large bird which quickly flew away as I approached (not sure what kind it is). I wasn’t sure where Pot Peak was exactly, as the trail continues on to Devil’s Backbone. In my haste to go on the hike, and expecting to likely get turned around because of trail conditions, I hadn’t downloaded the topo map for the area.
I proceeded a little ways along the ridge, and then found a nice rock to rest on while hydrating and eating. Noticing the time, I was torn between continuing on and turning around. As I got up, it started to drizzle and I made up my mind, back to the car. I still needed to grocery shop, and it was an hour drive back to my house.
The walk down in the light rain was nice, as it cooled me down. It stopped after a short while and I had an uneventful hike down the mountain and back to the car. I didn’t make it to the summit of Pot Peak, but it was nice to get out in the 25 mile Creek area, and I'm sure I'll be back.