Icicle River and Blackbird Island – Leavenworth, WA

Didn’t I say yesterday that I had caught the going-outside-bug? With the beautiful weather and I few days off, I just couldn’t resist getting in a good day hike, so we packed up early and headed into the mountains!

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Hike: 70°F | 9AM-6PM | 7.5 miles | Leavenworth, WA – Icicle River area, Blackbird Island

The plan was to drive out to the Icicle Gorge Nature Loop, an easy 4-mile hike along the Icicle River. Unfortunately, about 5 miles away we found that the road was still covered with deep snow. We would have tried to plow through it in our Subaru, but a truck was stranded in the only passable spot, and we had to give up on our hopes of making it to the trailhead. We hopped out and walked down the road a bit, finding that there were patches of dry pavement and swaths of snowdrifts that got progressively deeper. We’ll have to save this particular trail for another time. We did, however, get a good snowball fight in, which was a bit surreal in the 70 degree heat!

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We decided to turn back and see where the day would take us. We pulled off at a few turnouts along the Icicle River and explored a bit. A raging river of snowmelt bordered by spring wildflowers is certainly not a disappointing second choice.

We did a bit of aimless wandering before coming to the Snow Lakes trailhead, where we scoped out what might be a good challenge for just the hubs and I to do a little hike-in camping sometime. For today we only made it far enough down the trail to spot a herd of grazing mountain goats.

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It was lunchtime, and somehow we had eaten all of our trail snacks (om nom nom), so we went into town and waited out the hottest part of the day in a restaurant (cheating at outdoorsiness, I KNOW). With the little one in tow, but still craving some more time outside, we strolled down to Blackbird Island: Leavenworth’s calm little oasis in a sea of tourists. The entrance to the interpretive trail is right off a main street in town, but is just hidden enough to get missed by many visitors, which keeps it from getting too crowded.

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Despite having taken this walk at least once a year for… well, ever, I’m still always stopped in my tracks by the stunning mountain views across the Wenatchee River.

The island itself didn’t have much to offer this time of year – spring along the coast is arriving much quicker than in the mountains, and the promises of bears and bobcats made by the warning signs along the trail were (un)fortunately not delivered upon. Still, it’s always a lovely walk, and we haven’t ever visited this early, so it was interesting to see the waters so high and the ducks and geese that were active in them. The bare branches also made songbird spotting quite easy.

We left town as the sun was dipping below the mountains, lighting the snowy peaks from behind. I found myself wishing we could have stayed longer and seen more. Having lived in Eastern Washington for a few years (Spokane) and hated the heat in the summer, the lack of rain in the fall and spring and the inconvenience of the winter ice storms, I don’t always consider how beautiful and interesting this side of the mountains can be when seen as a visitor. We have a camping trip planned in Wenatchee this July, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to it more now. I also think I’ll try to get us over here in different seasons a few more times – we usually head this way every fall to pick apples in Cashmere, but there’s so much more to see that we just haven’t made time for. I’m happy for the change in perspective that a little trek outside of our norm has given me.

Areas visited: Icicle River turnouts including Snow Lakes trailhead; Blackbird Island – Leavenworth, WA

Species observed: Canada Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Turkey Vulture, Rock Pigeon, Northern Flicker (red-shafted), American Crow, Violet-green Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audobon’s), House Sparrow, Mountain Goats, Douglas Squirrel, White-tailed Deer

Wildflowers: Trumpet Lungwort, Candy Flower

 

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