Mid-September: Several people we’ve talked to this week have mentioned they had just returned from hiking Cady Ridge. Is it coincidence or is this trip suddenly in vogue? Or do those in-the-know simply know that Cady Ridge goes radioactive with fall colors in late September? While autumn is a special time to walk Cady Ridge, July and August are also prime times to wander the spectacularly massive flower gardens of Meander Meadows.
The Cady-Ridge-to-Meander- Meadows Loop is about 15.75 miles long and is an enjoyable overnight hike. Strong hikers can do the loop as a day trip but shorter day trips (8 to 12 miles in length) can also be taken to various viewpoints along Cady Ridge.
Elevation Gain. The Loop gains about 3,000 vertical feet. A day trip up peaklet 5,533 (roughly 4 miles one-way) gains 2,500 feet.
Access: Take Highway 2 to Cole’s Corner (14 miles west of Leavenworth), then follow Highway 207 (Lake Wenatchee Highway) about 4.2 miles and, shortly after crossing the Wenatchee River, go left at a Y. Go another 6 miles along the north shore of Lake Wenatchee and, at the Y with the White River Road, hook left staying on the larger road. Drive roughly 16.5 miles farther heading up the Little Wenatchee River, and following signs for Forest Road 65 and the Little Wenatchee Ford Campground. A Northwest Forest Pass is need to park at this campground where the trailhead is located
- Start on Trail 1501 which heads to Cady Creek. In about half a mile, branch right on Trail 1532 up Cady Ridge. This trail climbs steadily up to and along the ridge. After another 3.5 miles you’ll reach a peaklet along the ridge at an elevation of 5,533 feet. This is one good destination for day trippers to turn around.
- From the peaklet, hike another 1.75 miles to a T-intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn left and you’ll reach Lake Sally Ann in 0.4 miles—this is a good camping spot for overnight backpackers because water is scarce along the ridge. Turn right at the T-intersection and you’ll reach Ward Pass in 0.4 miles—this is another good turn-around point for day hikers.
- To complete the loop, follow the Pacific Crest Trail north to Ward Pass and then to Dishpan Gap (about 1.5 miles from Lake Sally Ann). About 0.75 miles beyond Dishpan Gap at Sauk Pass, turn right on Trail #1525. Now drop into Meander Meadows and descends the Little Wenatchee River back to the starting point. Note: The Little Wenatchee River Trail # 1525 can be brushy and rutted and is not as nice as the Cady Ridge Trail. Nonetheless, loops are nice and the walk through Meander Meadows is beautiful. Finally, after you’ve explored the meadows, it’s faster to return via the Little Wenatchee River.
More Info. See 100 Hikes in the Glacier Peak Region: North Cascades (Spring & Manning – Mountaineers Books) or Loop Hikes Washington (Nelson & Bauer – Mountaineers Books) both describe this route. Also see the Washington Trail Association (WTA) trail report about this hike.
Permits. No permits are required to hike but a Northwest Forest Pass is needed to park at the trailhead.
Maps. See below. (print in portrait mode on 8.5” x 14” paper).The Green Trails Map #144 (Benchmark Mtn) is also very useful for an overview of the area.
Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route.You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.