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Swakane Canyon -- Rattlesnake Spring

This hike begins in the Swakane Wildlife Area known for both large numbers of mule deer, and for a small herd of bighorn sheep. The hillsides are covered with typical sagebrush and bunch grass intermixed with occasional Ponderosa pines. Wild flowers are present early in the season as snow melts early along FS Rd. 5215 due to the south facing exposure. The hillside also loses its flowers early for the same reason. Nonetheless, balsamroots, blue bells, serviceberry, and buckwheat are there. Higher up the slope and on the ridge, where Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir mingle with alpine fir, the snow melts later and glacier lilies, blue elderberry, and spring beauties may be found. From the top of the unnamed peak, a complete surround view of the Entiat Mountains west to Glacier Peak, north to the Cascades, and southwest to Mt. Rainier is available on a clear day.

Maps: USGS 7.5 Minute Series: Rocky Reach Dam. View our topo map. Note: use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.

Activity: Hiking
Nearest Town: Wenatchee
Skill Level: 2
Fitness Level: 2
Distance: From Swakane Canyon Rd. to the unnamed peak is about 5.5 miles (11 miles round). 
Elevation: Elevation gain from parking to unnamed peak: About 2900 ft. 
Recommended Season: Spring

Access:
--From Wenatchee, travel north on Highway 97A toward Rocky Reach Dam.
--About a mile north of the dam, Swakane Canyon Rd. is on the left (west) side of the highway.
--Turn left on Swakane Canyon Rd. and follow this approximately 3.2 miles into the canyon. Look for the Forest Service road on the right (north) side of the road. This is the beginning of FS No. 5215, and is marked as such.
--Find a place to park off the road. No permit needed.

Trip Instructions: 
--On foot, follow Rd. 5215 up the grade to the east. This road is gated to motor traffic, but it will be obvious that renegades have found ways to defy the rules. It is unlikely that your hike will be disturbed by ATV or motorcycle traffic.
--The road follows a steady, moderately steep grade up the north side of Swakane Canyon with multiple switchbacks overlooking the canyon and the road access to Rd. 5215.
--After gaining approximately 1500 ft. of elevation, the road crests the shoulder of the mountain and turns to the north parallel to the Columbia River and Turtle Rock for about one mile.
--The road then turns toward the west above George Canyon to the north. Continue the ascent through two more switchbacks up the ridge through Ponderosa pines along the ridgeline.
--Within ½ mile the road passes to the south of a rocky pyramidal unnamed peak (elevation 4297 ft.). You may scramble to the top for a 360-degree view or continue as far as you care.
--FS Rd. 5215 continues west to Rattlesnake Spring and ultimately connects with Entiat Summit Rd. (FS Rd. 5200) via FS Rd. 5213. 

Additional Information: 
This hike passes through the geologic transition zone between the Grand Ronde basalt flows to the east forming the Waterville Plateau and Badger Mountain in Douglas County and the uplifted mass of granite, metamorphic sedimentary rock, and andesite forming the region between the Entiat Mountains and Burch Mountain on the west side of the Columbia River. The road cuts are abundant with Wenatchee Formation sandstone, and several dikes of vertical metamorphic rock are visible parallel to the course of the river. From the portion of the road parallel to the river, the effects of the massive Missoula Floods cutting the course of the present day Columbia River through the Waterville Plateau can be witnessed extending from Entiat to Rock Island. The massive expanse to the ancient lakebed forming the foundation of present-day Wenatchee can also be visualized. The town of Waterville can be seen above Pine Canyon on the flat glacier planed Waterville Plateau.

Land Designation: Forest Service.

Fees/Permits: None  

Trip Reporter: Fred Higgins, 4/16/04

More Hikes: Maps and details of over 150 regional walks in our on-line hiking guidebook.

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.