Paul and Muriel Milem took advantage of beautiful October weather and canoed up the Little Wenatchee from Glacier View Campground on Lake Wenatchee. The glassy water and gorgeous fall colors made the paddle an immediate favorite, tempting Paul to write that he wouldn’t be surprised if this is the most beautiful place to experience fall colors in the area.
After returning to the Glacier View Campground, Paul chose to take advantage of the calm water and paddle down the lake to the swim beach at Lake Wenatchee State Park where Muriel met him with the truck. Another option to lengthen this paddle is to paddle a mile or more up the White River until the river current becomes too strong to fight.
Attractions. Put-in and take-out are the same location so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of shuttling cars. Flat water and slow current make for fairly easy paddling. In the fall, the foliage is stunning.
Maps. See map below for more information.
Note: Use ‘Print Preview’ to orient/scale the map before printing.
Activity. Flatwater paddling
Nearest Town. Plain
Skill: 1 (beginner)
Fitness: 1+ or 2- (easy to easy intermediate)
Distance: About 4 miles (roughly 2 hours of paddling); can vary depending on how far up the river you paddle.
Best Seasons. Early October is a great time for the red/gold color show, but you can paddle this section almost any time of year.
Access. How to get to Glacier View Campground: Drive west on Highway 2, turn right onto Highway 207 at Coles Corner. Drive for about 4 miles, and turn into the south entrance of Lake Wenatchee State Park. Cross the Nason Creek Bridge and in about 100 yards turn left on a paved road (Cedar Brae Rd). Follow Cedar Brae Road for about five miles to the Glacier View Campground. The campground is at road’s end and the last mile of road is unpaved.
Parking is close to the launch beach – you can back your vehicle down to the water, or do a short carry. Lake Wenatchee can get windy and rough, but winds are usually from the West, so waves on this paddle often have had time to develop.
Trip Instructions. Put-in at the Glacier View Campground and head up lake. The entrance to the Little Wenatchee River is easy to find — look for the sandbar/delta marking the mouth of the river (see map). Paddle up the river until the current or woody debris make it sensible to turn around. Return the way you came. To lengthen your paddle, consider going to the White River next and paddling up it for about mile before returning to the campground. Or if the winds are mild, complete a clockwise loop by following the western shoreline of the lake over to the northern shoreline, following the northern shoreline for a mile or two before crossing back to the southern shoreline and returning to the campground (see map).
Hazards. Lake Wenatchee can get windy and rough. There’s a shallow bar at the end of the lake that needs to be crossed but, after that, the river is quite deep. The current increases as you paddle upstream. You may get to a point where the combination of current and wood debris needing to be negotiated discourages further progress.
Bugs. Another reason to do this paddle in late summer or autumn? No bugs. Lake Wenatchee is notorious for its mosquitoes from late spring through mid-summer. Mosquitoes are usually at their worst in June and July, but each year is different so visitors are wise to come armed with repellent from mid-May until mid-August. Even when the bugs are bad at the boat launch or in the campground, you’ll quickly leave them behind once you start paddling.
Other Issues. On busy summer days, there is a lot of motored traffic in the lake (jet skis, boats pulling wake boarders, etc.). Due to the sand bar that needs to be crossed to get into the Little Wenatchee River, you won’t have a problem with boats once you get into the river.
Permits and Camping. A Northwest Forest Pass is needed to use the day-use area of the campground (for parking and boat launching). The campground is a beautiful location for tent campers and has many nice sites near water level. Space is booked on a first-come-first-serve basis. There are only two or three flat pads that will accommodate vans and pickups with campers. Larger RVs and pickups hauling trailers or fifth wheels will not find this to be an accommodating campground. Overnight camping fee ($18 as of 9/2020).
Reporter and Updates. Paul Milem first posted 10/21/10, formatted for blog 10/29/10. Post fact-checked and updated 9/2020.
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