Swakane Canyon

I first visited Swakane Canyon in April 2009. I joined Kim and Janet for that trip. A sunny day with some good wildflowers. Not a tremendous show but good. There was a fire in the canyon in 2010. It was time for a return visit. Kim and Janet came along again and Gwen joined us this time. We met in Monroe at 7:00 am and headed east. There was little traffic at that hour and we cruised over Stevens Pass to Wenatchee then north on Highway 97 for about 5 1/2 miles to the sign for Swakane. The dirt road has been graded and was no problem for Gwen's Subaru. There was a Volkswagen Beetle at the trailhead. The road should be fine for most cars. With one stop for gas in Leavenworth we arrived at about 9:00 am. It was warming up nicely.

I started with long sleeves and long pants but that did not last long. The route is a road walk. The road is gated. Over the whole day we saw just the couple with the VW. Almost total solitude just half a dozen miles from Wenatchee. The steepest part of the road/trail is the beginning. The week before we saw some balsamroot flowers on Icicle Ridge but no lupine was close to blooming. This time we had both. Not thick but flowers much of the way up. There were a few flowers for which we could not recall the name. Trees are few and far between. Many have blackened bark and more are burned up.  Views out start immediately and never let up.

The valley is still very green. Only a touch of snow seen on the ridge far up the valley. The route is not up Swakane Canyon. Instead it climbs the north wall and contours around to the east. The view was crystal clear in the morning light. As we ascended we found small clumps of other flowers. Most are blooming now. I was very surprised to find one lone scarlet gilia in full bloom. Did not see another one all day. The Columbia River soon came into view. At least bits of it. One switchback had lots of bluebells in bloom. Again, not a profusion of flowers but many small clumps of different ones. Another slope had a lot of white phlox. Plenty to keep photographers buys. We made a lot of short photo stops.

At about 3.85 miles we reached the point where the route crosses a side ridge dropping down towards the river. Out on it is the most interesting geographical spot. A series of rock blocks set across the ridge. This dike can be seen from far away. We dropped down to it for our lunch break. There were a number of bitterroot plants that were nearly ready to bloom. That spot should be colorful in another week. It was very sunny but a cool breeze brought out my jacket. Kim chose to explore the ridge while the rest of us headed back up to the road/trail. The route is much flatter after the first few miles.

The route turns to west on the north side of the slope and more flowers appeared. There were a lot of shooting stars in bloom. They generally grow in wet areas so seeing them here was unexpected. It should not have been that surprising as a look at my 2009 report shows a shooing star. I just have a short memory I guess. The shooting stars were as prolific as any wildflower seen on the trip. They all seemed to be right about at their peak. Great color. The Waterville Plateau is easy to pick out from along there. Last time we switchbacked up to the ridge top and turned around. This time we made it to the switchback and called it good there. Almost five miles in.

The grade is very gentle making it easy coming down. As we turned south Wenatchee and Mission Ridge came back into sight. Kim was back up on the route as we returned to the dike ridge. By now it was getting pretty hot. At least for west siders after a long winter. We took a few breaks at the spots where trees provided a little shade. The weeks have been fairly cloudy and wet the last month but the weekends keep being sunny. I can live with that. Lots more photos coming down. It was a bit more hazy but still very good. On the south slope of Swakane Canyon the lower sun left long shadows from the trees.

We reached the car just before 4:00 pm. A nice easy paced day with 9.8 miles and 2000'of gain per the GPS. I had good company with never a dull moment. On the way back we stopped in Leavenworth for dinner then had the good fortune to have no slowdowns on Highway 2 on a Sunday. That is a rarity. This was not a non stop flower show but it was better than I expected. With the flowers and views it was well worth the long drive. A great day on the far edge of the mountains.

View Across Canyon
Parking Lot
Lone Flower
Bright Balsamroot
Balsamroot Close Up
Pale Flower
More Balsamroot
More Lupine
Janet On The Road
Back Lit Balsamroot
Janet At Work
Scarlet Gilia
Grass And Flowers
Swakane Canyon
Pale Against Black
Burned Tree
Rocks & Flowers
Pink Flowers
Mission Ridge
Balsamroot & Lupine
Rock Dike
Ridge To Dike
Road Is Above
Kim On The Rocks
Bug On Balsamroot
Draw To Columbia River
Yellow & Blue Sky
Evergreen Grove
Many Shades
Shooting Stars
Spring Beauty
Rock Formation
Many Colors
Tumbleweeds & Kim
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012