Pacific Northwest Region Viewing Area
Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) blooms in the semi-arid shrub steppe ecosystem surrounding the Lake Chelan basin. Photo by Brigitte Ranne.
A bumblebee’s view of giant red Indian paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) found scattered with the grasses and sagebrush on Echo Ridge. Photo by Whitney Graham.
Frasera albicaulis, whitestem frasera, a beautiful plant in the gentian family, is a surprise encountered on the Echo Ridge Trail. Photo by Brigitte Ranne.
Forest: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
District: Chelan Ranger District
Description: The Echo Ridge trail system is located on the foothills above Lake Chelan, a 55-mile long glacial lake. In winter, the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing and snow shoeing. The rest of the year, the trails are used for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. The trails and dirt roads wind along ridges with views of Lake Chelan and the Columbia River Basin, high peaks in the North Cascades, and forested and shrub steppe foothills. In late spring and early summer these trails are high enough (roughly 3,000 to 4,300 feet) that the flowers are at their prime when they have faded at lower elevations, and while snow still prevents access to trails at higher elevations.
Viewing Information: Native plants are typical of the shrub steppe and dry ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)forests of the east side of the Cascades. Wildflowers include arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus), Douglas’ brodiaea (Brodiaea douglasii), showy phlox (Phlox speciosa), and Nuttall’s delphinium (Delphinium nuttallianum). Native shrubs like bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), and Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana) add to the display. One surprise is Frasera albicaulis, a beautiful plant in the gentian family which is more typically found in the Columbia basin.
Safety First: Rattlesnakes, yellow jackets, cougars, and black bears are potential hazards. Bring water – none is available at the trailhead. Drive defensively on the Forest Service roads – drive slowly and stay on the right side of the road, especially on blind corners. Please call the Chelan Ranger District (509-682-4900) to check conditions before you visit.
Directions: The trails are about 9.5 miles from the town of Chelan, WA. From Chelan follow the Manson Highway (SR-150) 2 miles to the Boyd Road and turn right. Follow Boyd Road to Boyd Loop Road to Cooper Gulch Road, following signs to the Echo Valley Ski Area and snowmobile Sno-Park. The county road ends at the Echo Valley downhill ski area. From this point, a Forest Service road climbs uphill to Echo Ridge. There is a lower parking lot for the Zoom Trailhead (about 1 mile from Echo Valley) which can hold 6 or 7 vehicles. If you continue uphill for another mile, you will reach the main parking areas. Trail maps are posted on kiosks at the parking areas and are available at the Chelan Ranger District office.
Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Chelan Ranger District.
Closest Town: Chelan, Washington.