This hike takes you to one of the last manned (womaned?) lookouts in the state. The lookout appears to be recently upgraded, although it was closed for the season when we were there in October of 2006. Nine Mile Saddle is a narrow ridge that lets you look into both the Lake Wenatchee drainage and the Stevens Pass valley. A pleasant, and not overly strenuous hike.
Maps: Green Trails map #145 (Wenatchee Lake). The Kahler Glen side of the Nason Ridge trail is on Green Trails map # 146 (Plain). Or view our topo map. Note: use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.
Activities: Hiking, Family Fun, Trail Running
Nearest Town: Leavenworth, Plain
Skill Level: 2
Fitness Level: 2+/3
Distance: From the Round Mountain trailhead to the lookout is 5.2 miles one way. There are a variety of hiking options, with a one-way hike toward Merritt Lake which would add an additional 6.1 miles to the hike and adds a shuttle to the drive.
Elevation: The trail starts at 3,900′ and the lookout is at 6,237′, for an elevation gain of 2,337′. The ridgeline followed from Round Mountain to the lookout has a number of small descents and climbs adding about another 400 vertical feet of gain for a total elevation gain of about 2750′.
Recommended Season: Spring, summer, fall. In late spring and early summer the wildflowers are thick. And from latish September to latish October, the fall colors are fabulous.
Access: Drive Highway 2 westbound past Leavenworth, continue on Highway 2 past Coles Corner (the junction where highway 207 intersects with Highway 2). In several miles at milepost 82.25 (where the westbound highway is pinching down from 2 lanes to 1 lane) take Road 6910 to the right (north). The road (aka the Butcher Creek Road) is small and not signed. If you reach the Nason Creek Rest Area you have gone roughly 150 yards too far. Turn around in the rest area and go back east. There are several small roads intersecting the highway making this confusing to find. As soon as you turn onto the road, there will be a bank of mailboxes on your right — the stop sign at the highway may also have a small plaque giving the road number. Drive this gravel road uphill for several miles, passing a few spur roads on your left and right. About 4.3 miles from Highway 2, turn right onto Spur 170 (a sign stating ‘Trail’ marked the turn at the time of this post). Drive another 0.25 miles to the parking area at the trailhead.
Trip Instructions: Not much tricky about this hike. The trailhead is well marked at the end of the road (Round Mountain Trail #1529). Hike 1.6 miles up the Round Mountain part of the trail. This is the steepest part of the hike, gaining 1,400 feet. I was working on chewing a very stale powerbar while hoofing it uphill and rapidly ran out of air. (This is a non-technical description of the elevation gain—not able to chew and hike at the same time.) At 1.6 miles the Round Mountain trail intersects with the Nason Ridge Trail (#1583). It is clearly signed. Going right will send you down to Kahler Glen (wrong way for this hike). Going to the left (west) and uphill will head you toward the lookout. The trail follows the ridge the whole way. Some ups, some downs. We kept anticipating the lookout at any moment only to discover when we finally saw it that it was a long way away. At mile 4.6 you will hit Nine Mile Saddle. This is a fun saddle—narrow with good views in both directions. There is another intersection in 0.3 miles: to the left is the trail down to Merritt Lake, approximately 3.5 miles to the lake. Continue up the trail to the right and reach the lookout in another 0.3 miles.
TRAIL RUNNERS! The start of this route climbs quickly, but the bulk of the route is suited to running.
Uses Allowed: Hiking, mountain biking, horses, and motorbikes.
Fees/Permits: A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead.
Additional Information: The road from Highway 2 up to the trailhead (road 6919) looks like a fun mountain bike ride. About 1800 feet of climbing in 4.5 miles, but the road is good, and with the fall colors, it was gorgeous. We saw mountain bike tracks from someone who appeared to have ridden the road, walked their bike up the Round Mountain part of the trail, then ridden down Nason Ridge to Kahler Glen. Seemed like a fun option.
Additional Links: Click here to read the Seattle PI article on this hike. The article is very accurate except for its description of the road up to the trailhead. Contrary to what the article says, Road # 6910 was in good shape. Note: The PI article assumes you are approaching from Seattle.
Updated Condition Report: You might find a recent condition report at the Washington Trail Association (WTA) trail report of this hike.
Trip Reporter: Carolyn Griffin-Bugert, October 2006. Fact checked with some minor edits made September 17, 2013.
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.