Editor's note: This information was originally published 6-5-08.
Most residents of Central Washington think of Nordic skiing when they think about the dirt roads near Echo Ridge on the high hills above Manson and Lake Chelan. However the same tangle of old logging roads offers spring and summer opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running along fairly flat routes that contour hillsides with expansive views over Lake Chelan to the south, forested foothills to the north, and the high Cascades to the west. Also, in late spring and early summer these trails are high enough (roughly 3,000 to 4,300 feet) that the flowers are still optic even though the bloom has faded down in the towns flanking the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers.
Map. View our topo map. Note: use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.
Activity: Hiking, Mountain Biking, Trail Running, Family Fun
Nearest Town: Chelan, Manson
Map of Trails: Echo Ridge Bike and Hiking Map
Skill Level: 1 (accommodates all skill levels)
Fitness Level: 1 (accommodates all fitness levels)
Distance: 25 miles of roads and trails that are part of the wintertime Nordic skiing system. Hikes, rides, runs between 1 and 15 miles in length are all possible up here.
Elevation: The trails/roads lie between 3000' and 4300' of elevation.
Access. The trails are about 9.5 miles from the town of Chelan. Follow the Manson Highway (SR-150) 2 miles to the Boyd Road and turn right. Follow Boyd Road to Boyd Loop Road to Cooper Gulch Road, following signs to the Echo Valley Ski Area and snowmobile Sno-Park. The county road ends at the Echo Valley downhill ski area. From this point, a Forest Service road winds steeply uphill to Echo Ridge. There is a lower parking lot for the Zoom Trailhead (about 1 mile from Echo Valley) which can hold 6 or 7 vehicles. If you continue steeply uphill for another mile, you’ll reach the main parking areas -- there’s a lower and an upper lot, both capable of holding about 50 vehicles. Between the Zoom Trailhead and the Lower Lot, there’s also a trailhead and small parking area named "The Shoe" that provides access to a set of trails which, in the winter are reserved for snowshoeing.
Trip Instructions. There are outings of all lengths and many fitness levels here. Print our map and pick an option that looks good.
For a 2.5 mile outing, start at the Lower Trailhead (LT on our map) and do both Tootsy Roll and Whoop-Di- Do.
- For about a 4.5 mile loop, start at the Upper Trailhead (UT on the map) and do Nuthatch to Chaos Corner, then do the Alley Oop Loop with a stop at the Purteman View, and return via Windsinger and Chickadee.
- For a 7.5 mile outing with the most vertical gain, start at the Zoom Trailhead (el: 3,040') and follow the Zoom Trail to North Junction. Follow the Outback Trail around Peak 4,324 and walk up to the summit from the backside for the best views before completing the loop of the peak and returning via the Zoom Trail.
- Mountain bikers and trail runners wanting a better workout still can do the Outback Loop up and around Peak 4,324 as described above. Back at North Junction on the return, follow the winter snowmobiling road and Inner Rim to High Five Junction. Then follow the Outer Rim to Chaos Corner. Return to the Upper Trailhead via Nuthatch and descend the road one mile back to the Zoom Trailhead. Total mileage of this loop is roughly 11 miles.
Trail System. The terrain is gently rolling and the trails wind through the head of several broad drainages, giving a sense of solitude and wilderness on even the busiest days. The system is divided in several different loops coming together at 5 major junctions. The routes are reasonably well signed and, if you carry our map with you, you can explore the area as a novice without worries of getting yourself (or your family) into a predicament where you become coyote bait.
Also, view this Summer Hiking Trails Guide:
Pros/Cons. Pro: easy, fairly flat, dirt road system that requires little skill and only a modicum of fitness to enjoy. There are outings of many lengths and fitness levels here...On the con side the area has been formerly logged and the immediate surroundings are sometimes not that beautiful or are a bit scruffy--sometimes it's better to keep your eyes on the distance and enjoy the distant views rather than analyze the aesthetics of the hill immediately below the road.
Uses Allowed. In winter pets are only allowed on the Zoom and Outback trails. In summer dogs can accompany you on the entire trail system.
Management. The Echo Ridge Nordic Area was established in 1991 by the US Forest Service. The area is operated under a cooperative agreement with the Lake Chelan Nordic Club.
Fees/Permits. None in the summer months. In the winter (as of 2014) the trail fee (paid at self-serve drop boxes in the parking areas) is $10 per day per adult.
Additional Information. Chelan Ranger Station, 509-682-2549. Click here to read a trip report by the Wenatchee World
Other Maps. Click here to view another map of the region (8.5"x14" portrait).
Reporter. Original report by Allison and Andy Dappen, 2008.
More Rides. Maps and details of over 100 regional rides in our mountain biking guidebook. For more information from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance click here
Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse old fire rings (they encourage more fires), throw branches over spur trails and spurs between switchbacks (make it harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing).
Important Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Things change, conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes, fail to give complete information, or may not know all the issues affecting a route. So forget about finger pointing: If things go wrong, you are completely responsible for yourself and your actions. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.