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Trip Report

Swakane Canyon — Tuesday, May. 5, 2020

Central Washington

Trip Report By

Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Trail in good condition


Road rough but passable


Bugs were not too bad


Snow free

Video included.

With May 5th being "reopening day" for State lands, I wanted to find a hike that was the polar opposite of everything I have been doing since they closed. I am intimately familiar with my city parks now, which primarily means trees, moss, ferns, and wetness. What could be better than the other side of the mountains? Nothing!

I used WTA Hikefinder with the "Discovery Pass" filter selected, and came across "Swakane Canyon". Never heard of it. I read a few prior trip reports, and it sounded pretty good. I then did a cross check between my truck's fuel capacity and the distance of the drive there and back - I did not want to have to stop in any communities en route, being respectful of others. It passed this test as well.

I awoke at 4am, and was out the door by 4:30, arriving at the trailhead basically at 8am. Swakane Canyon road is gravel and potholed, but if you have done Pilchuck or Winchester Mountain, this road is the Autobahn in comparison. 

The "Trailhead" is simply a bullet riddled gate, and the trail is an old road. Elevation gain is non-stop the entire way, but is graded at such an angle that you won't even notice it, the entire way, including the trip back down.

Wildflowers everywhere. Many different types, that I am in the process of trying to identify. The most abundant ones are the little sunflower type, but Lupine was also abundant. 

Views of the Columbia River and Wenatchee, as well as the rolling hills, were incredible. 

It is a scramble to the summit of Swakane Peak, if one is so inclined. I was tempted, but as a solo hiker I erred on the side of caution, and went to the top of the unnamed hill I the trail climbed up. 

I found a nice fallen tree to have my lunch at. As I sat and dug through my pack, I quickly found that I had sat on an ant nest. Both species reacted in a similar manner - alarm and dismay. They carried their young to safety while I practiced a few breakdancing moves from the '80's.

The return to the truck was easy on the knees, and about 10 minutes before returning to the truck I passed the only other people I saw the entire trip.

Great hike!


BethS on Swakane Canyon

I think your little sunflowers are Hooker's Balsamroot. It's a smaller version of it's cousin the Arrowleaf Balsamroot, it grows in drier, rockier soil.

Posted by:

BethS on May 09, 2020 05:22 PM

Jazz Dog on Swakane Canyon

Excellent trip report and photos and video!The video especially is super helpful (and very nice videography👏)
I was looking for a new hike in one of my favorite areas, and you totally sold me on Swakane. Gonna check it out on Friday! Thanks for the effort!

Posted by:

Jazz Dog on Jun 17, 2020 10:55 PM

Merritt on Swakane Canyon

Much appreciated! Have fun!

Posted by:

Merritt on Jun 18, 2020 08:31 AM

Merritt on Swakane Canyon

Much appreciated! Have fun!

Posted by:

Merritt on Jun 18, 2020 08:31 AM

Jazz Dog on Swakane Canyon

Also your report was entertaining as well as helpful 👍🏼

Posted by:

Jazz Dog on Jun 17, 2020 10:57 PM