Travel

Beyond the Brats, Leavenworth is a Gateway to the Outdoors

Forget the Bavarian kitsch. The beloved tourist town is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts.

By Kristen Russell June 7, 2017

0517_bratsrec

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Seattle magazine.

Tucked into the North Cascades in Chelan County is an unparalleled outdoor playground: Leavenworth. That’s right—the town best known for relentless Bavarian kitsch is actually a portal to a world of epic natural beauty, with some of the Northwest’s most venerated hiking trails, thrilling whitewater rafting, best-in-class birding and a zip line that will leave you breathless. This ain’t your grandma’s Leavenworth.

Declare a polka-free zone at your home base at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, or try the affordable, well-appointed fireplace suites at the Icicle Village Resort. Either way, you’re at the gateway to a network of stunningly beautiful mountain trails, including one that leads to the trek through The Enchantments, a revered, rugged and breathtakingly beautiful system of lakes, tarns and ridges in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

To hike The Enchantments, you need to win a lottery for an overnight camping permit (or do the grueling 18 miles in a single day), but you can experience entry-level Enchantments—no permit needed—by making the 8-mile round-trip to one of the most glorious mountain lakes in the state, Colchuck Lake. Or take a chill stroll along the Icicle Gorge Nature Loop; most of the 4-mile ramble is level, with lovely views. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for all of these hikes.

Water babies will thrill to the Class III river rafting on the Wenatchee River (which runs by Leavenworth), tubing or splashing at the swimming beach at Blackbird Island just behind town. Leavenworth is a birder’s paradise, and the Bird Fest in May features spotting by boat and on foot, and even a shivery after-dark owl prowl. Cap it off by flying like a bird down the zip line at Mountain Springs Lodge.

Pass on the brats und bier and reward yourself with a green enchilada on the sweet back patio at South, or try the inspired Mana Restaurant for locally sourced cuisine with organic and foraged tendencies. 

Insider tip: Pick up any outdoorsy gear you may require—from hiking pants to bike rentals, maps, flip-flops and more—at Der Sportsmann (837 Front St.; dersportsmann.com).

Details:

Stay
Sleeping Lady Resort, from $355 sleepinglady.com

Icicle Village Resort, from $159 iciclevillage.com

Eat
South southleavenworth.com

Mana Restaurant manamountain.com

Do
Colchuck Lake, (no permit required) wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/colchuck-lake

River rafting Visit leavenworth.org/experience for a list of outfitters

Bird Fest, May 18–21 leavenworthspringbirdfest.org

Zip line at Mountain Springs Lodge mtsprings.com

Follow Us

Hidden Washington: Leavenworth All Year

Hidden Washington: Leavenworth All Year

This Bavarian-style village in the Cascade Mountains offers more than just Oktoberfest and Christmas celebrations

Beyond the beer and bratwurst and lively seasonal celebrations — notably Oktoberfest with a “K” and Christmas with a heaping dose of Nutcrackers — Leavenworth is a fabulous place to spend a long weekend...

Got to Get to California

Got to Get to California

The state’s stunning beauty is on full display in these pastoral midsize cities

Just like the 1987 Seattle Supersonics, California has a Big Three. Xavier McDaniel, the “X-Man,” is Los Angeles, flashy and often spectacular...

Iconic Idaho | Sponsored

Iconic Idaho | Sponsored

Experience the best of the state in north central destinations Moscow and the Lewis Clark Valley

Visit a place where you can discover reverting natural and human history, breathtaking scenery and outdoor adventure, and exemplary Northwest food and drink in Moscow and the Lewis Clark Valley. Moscow Moscow is a vibrant college town with a palpable vibe. The downtown area is brimming with boutique shopping and eclectic dining options that showcase…

Hidden Washington: The Other Vancouver

Hidden Washington: The Other Vancouver

Explore rich history and vibrant scenery on the north bank of the Columbia River 

The English explorer George Vancouver and his associates embarked on a naming spree in the Pacific Northwest unlike any seen before. In his fantastic book...