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A railroad bridge over a rocky river on a snowy day, with evergreen trees on either side and a mountain behind. Sveta Imnadze/Shutterstock

The Entiat Valley is full of gorgeous winter hikes

Venture beyond the mountains

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Heather Lake. Mount Pilchuck. Lake 22. Wonderful, beautiful, agonisingly rewarding hikes—that you’ve already done, maybe twice. If you haven’t, you should, but you should probably wait until the spring, because elevation is not your friend in the winter.

If you love to hike, then the winter is simply a tough time to go out. Snowshoeing is fun, sure, but it’s twice as tiring and gear-heavy. You could lean into the snow and go skiing, but that gets expensive very fast. What if you just want to hike? Well, here’s what.

These hikes are all located in the Entiat Valley, about a three-hour drive from Seattle. While the area’s most popular winter wonderland is arguably Leavenworth, there are plenty of other beautiful—and less crowded—places to go around towns like Wenatchee, Ardenvoir, and Brief.

Just getting started with Seattle-area hikes? We’ve mapped 12 essential day hikes as a primer.

Editor’s note: Because some of these hikes are lesser-known, map points are often approximate. Consult a map with more detailed and accurate locations, or a ranger station, before departing.

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1. Dry Gulch Preserve

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Dry Gulch Rd
Wenatchee, WA 98801

You’ve probably been to Leavenworth, but have you been to Wenatchee? It’s a little more, shall we say, rugged, but all underexplored areas are. If you make it past the big box stores that welcome you into town, you’ll stumble onto Pybus Market (a clear spin off of Pike Place Market, but without the crowds), a local coffee roaster shop (a clear spin off of mid-2000s Seattle), an organic sandwich place, a handful of breweries, and bars with great patio space (because the sun shines here all year!)

If you follow Wenatchee’s main drag, Miller Street, all the way to its end, you’ll find the Dry Gulch Preserve. It’s maintained year-round, which means the roads are ploughed and the trails are groomed, so you won’t need snowshoes here—though you’ll want a pair of cozy snow boots all the same. The best part is that it’s tucked away behind town, and the folks that comes through here are mostly local.

The most important thing: Dogs are welcome on these trails, although they need to be leashed.

2. Steliko Lookout

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Tucked between Leavenworth and Wenatchee like the northern point of a triangle, Ardenvoir isn’t more than a few residential streets with a general store. But the drive there is nothing short of gorgeous. It’s about thirty minutes from Wenatchee, and because you have to circumvent some mountains, about an hour from Leavenworth. It boasts some wonderfully accessible and beautiful hikes very few people outside of the valley know about.

One of those hikes leads to the Steliko Lookout. You won’t find this little gem on the Washington Trails Association website, so listen closely. Follow the Entiat River Road (19) for about 10 miles into Steliko Canyon. Take a right onto NF-5310, and park at the second junction. The road should run off to your right. The lookout is about a half a mile away from that junction. Depending on the weather, or simply because you want to enjoy a longer hike, you may opt to park at the mouth of the Forest Service road, and hike all the way up to the lookout (about two miles).

Since this is an off-the-map hike, I’d recommend bringing an offline Google map, set to a satellite image, so that you can become familiar with the terrain beforehand and recognise your place on the map better. It isn’t extremely off-the-grid, though: The area is inhabited all the way up to the junction with the Forest Service Road, so you can always ask for advice or help from the locals nearby. It won’t be a snow-free hike, but it has a good potential to be minimal (less than a foot), and it’s short enough to be enjoyable year-round.

(Editor’s note: Map point is for Ardenvoir, Washington, not the specific trailhead location.)

3. Mad River Sno Park

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Mad River Rd
Entiat, WA 98822
(509) 784-4700
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Another great find along the Entiat River Road is the Mad River Sno Park, which is currently closed for most recreational uses to recover the forest after a fire this summer (don’t worry: it was a “healthy” fire, which burned just the bush and bramble, clearing the forest floor). However, you’re still allowed to hike along the road toward Pine Flats Campground.

From Ardenvoir, hop onto the Mad River Road for just a few miles, until you hit a junction. Mad River Road ends here and splits up into NF-5800 and NFS-5700. The latter takes you to the campground, which is unsupervised in the winter. It’s a little under two miles from the junction to the campground, and about three and a half miles from Ardenvoir itself.

Find a place by the road that makes sense for your vehicle and the level of snow—it could be clear, or it could get a foot of snow, one never knows—and walk up to the campground. If you’re feeling optimistic, and prefer not to park roadside, leave the car in Ardenvoir and go all the way by foot. Road hikes aren’t as quaint as proper forest hikes, perhaps, but the road stays by the river the whole time, which makes for beautiful ambient sounds, the scenery is stunning, and it’s very likely you won’t run into any other hikers. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Bonus: It’s reliably accessible. It’s impossible to predict mountain weather, but the roads to Ardenvoir are maintained year-round, so you’re ensured a chance at getting there. That’s very rarely a given for a trailhead.

4. Preston Creek

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NF-5501
Entiat, WA 98822

If you’d love to just hang out in the snow for the day, or even to camp overnight, finding an accessible campsite can be a challenge. The campgrounds along Icicle Creek have gained a lot of popularity in recent years because of the Alpine Wilderness craze (have you gotten your Enchantment Permit yet?) but contrary to popular belief, they’re not open year-round. According to the Leavenworth Ranger District, the trees surrounding the campsites have been experiencing some rather heavy root rot, which, especially in the winter, increases the odds of trees downing in the wind, and falling right onto your tent. Don’t do it!

Instead, make your way to Preston Creek. It is, again, along the Entiat River Road—follow it for 22 miles, past a little “town” called Brief, and on your right you’ll find NF-5501. The Entiat Ranger District recommends this road as a great place to camp out for the day or the night. It’s riverside, and it’s legal! Just be on the lookout for those pesky “private property” signs. The further up the road you go, the better your chances of being in the clear.

5. Potato Creek

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Preston Creek isn’t the only forest service road off Entiat amiable to camping, though—while it’s ideal, it’s a little further north, so if snow happens to be heavy on your visit, you may want to take a right a little earlier. Fourteen miles down the Entiat River Road, you’ll find NF-8410, which closely follows Potato Creek. Make sure you go at least three miles up the road to ensure you’re well onto public lands. And, as always, leave no trace!

1. Dry Gulch Preserve

Dry Gulch Rd, Wenatchee, WA 98801

You’ve probably been to Leavenworth, but have you been to Wenatchee? It’s a little more, shall we say, rugged, but all underexplored areas are. If you make it past the big box stores that welcome you into town, you’ll stumble onto Pybus Market (a clear spin off of Pike Place Market, but without the crowds), a local coffee roaster shop (a clear spin off of mid-2000s Seattle), an organic sandwich place, a handful of breweries, and bars with great patio space (because the sun shines here all year!)

If you follow Wenatchee’s main drag, Miller Street, all the way to its end, you’ll find the Dry Gulch Preserve. It’s maintained year-round, which means the roads are ploughed and the trails are groomed, so you won’t need snowshoes here—though you’ll want a pair of cozy snow boots all the same. The best part is that it’s tucked away behind town, and the folks that comes through here are mostly local.

The most important thing: Dogs are welcome on these trails, although they need to be leashed.

Dry Gulch Rd
Wenatchee, WA 98801

2. Steliko Lookout

Ardenvoir, WA 98822

Tucked between Leavenworth and Wenatchee like the northern point of a triangle, Ardenvoir isn’t more than a few residential streets with a general store. But the drive there is nothing short of gorgeous. It’s about thirty minutes from Wenatchee, and because you have to circumvent some mountains, about an hour from Leavenworth. It boasts some wonderfully accessible and beautiful hikes very few people outside of the valley know about.

One of those hikes leads to the Steliko Lookout. You won’t find this little gem on the Washington Trails Association website, so listen closely. Follow the Entiat River Road (19) for about 10 miles into Steliko Canyon. Take a right onto NF-5310, and park at the second junction. The road should run off to your right. The lookout is about a half a mile away from that junction. Depending on the weather, or simply because you want to enjoy a longer hike, you may opt to park at the mouth of the Forest Service road, and hike all the way up to the lookout (about two miles).

Since this is an off-the-map hike, I’d recommend bringing an offline Google map, set to a satellite image, so that you can become familiar with the terrain beforehand and recognise your place on the map better. It isn’t extremely off-the-grid, though: The area is inhabited all the way up to the junction with the Forest Service Road, so you can always ask for advice or help from the locals nearby. It won’t be a snow-free hike, but it has a good potential to be minimal (less than a foot), and it’s short enough to be enjoyable year-round.

(Editor’s note: Map point is for Ardenvoir, Washington, not the specific trailhead location.)

3. Mad River Sno Park

Mad River Rd, Entiat, WA 98822

Another great find along the Entiat River Road is the Mad River Sno Park, which is currently closed for most recreational uses to recover the forest after a fire this summer (don’t worry: it was a “healthy” fire, which burned just the bush and bramble, clearing the forest floor). However, you’re still allowed to hike along the road toward Pine Flats Campground.

From Ardenvoir, hop onto the Mad River Road for just a few miles, until you hit a junction. Mad River Road ends here and splits up into NF-5800 and NFS-5700. The latter takes you to the campground, which is unsupervised in the winter. It’s a little under two miles from the junction to the campground, and about three and a half miles from Ardenvoir itself.

Find a place by the road that makes sense for your vehicle and the level of snow—it could be clear, or it could get a foot of snow, one never knows—and walk up to the campground. If you’re feeling optimistic, and prefer not to park roadside, leave the car in Ardenvoir and go all the way by foot. Road hikes aren’t as quaint as proper forest hikes, perhaps, but the road stays by the river the whole time, which makes for beautiful ambient sounds, the scenery is stunning, and it’s very likely you won’t run into any other hikers. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Bonus: It’s reliably accessible. It’s impossible to predict mountain weather, but the roads to Ardenvoir are maintained year-round, so you’re ensured a chance at getting there. That’s very rarely a given for a trailhead.

Mad River Rd
Entiat, WA 98822

4. Preston Creek

NF-5501, Entiat, WA 98822

If you’d love to just hang out in the snow for the day, or even to camp overnight, finding an accessible campsite can be a challenge. The campgrounds along Icicle Creek have gained a lot of popularity in recent years because of the Alpine Wilderness craze (have you gotten your Enchantment Permit yet?) but contrary to popular belief, they’re not open year-round. According to the Leavenworth Ranger District, the trees surrounding the campsites have been experiencing some rather heavy root rot, which, especially in the winter, increases the odds of trees downing in the wind, and falling right onto your tent. Don’t do it!

Instead, make your way to Preston Creek. It is, again, along the Entiat River Road—follow it for 22 miles, past a little “town” called Brief, and on your right you’ll find NF-5501. The Entiat Ranger District recommends this road as a great place to camp out for the day or the night. It’s riverside, and it’s legal! Just be on the lookout for those pesky “private property” signs. The further up the road you go, the better your chances of being in the clear.

NF-5501
Entiat, WA 98822

5. Potato Creek

NF-8410, Washington

Preston Creek isn’t the only forest service road off Entiat amiable to camping, though—while it’s ideal, it’s a little further north, so if snow happens to be heavy on your visit, you may want to take a right a little earlier. Fourteen miles down the Entiat River Road, you’ll find NF-8410, which closely follows Potato Creek. Make sure you go at least three miles up the road to ensure you’re well onto public lands. And, as always, leave no trace!