Lion Gulch Camp and Swauk Discovery Trail

Trip Date: July 9th and 10th, 2022

Highway 97 over Blewett Pass in the Wena

This trip started off with a short day hike on the Swauk Discovery Trail, walking through tall ponderosa pines, spruce and larch trees in the Wenatchee National Forest. Despite the large parking lot, there were very few folks out with us this summer morning in Swauk Forest.

Danny and Emma on the Swauk Discovery Trail

It was a beautiful summer day to go out on a hike in the eastern Cascade Moutains, with moderate temperatures in the low 80s, sunny skies and calm winds. The depth of blue in the sky is always spectacular once you get some elevation under your feet, and today was no exception.

Blue Skies and Green Trees in the Cascade Mountains

The viewing conditions were great today, with clear atmosphere providing for excellent views of the mountain peaks in the eastern Cacade Mountains. To the north of the Swauk forest lies the Enchantments Wilderness area, where there was still plenty of snow pack on the high mountain peaks.

Snow Covered Cascade Peak in Mid Summer
The Enchantments to the North from Swauk Discovery Trail

The Swauk Discovery Trail is located in the Wenatchee National Forest, just off Highway 97 at the top of Blewett Pass. Located approximately midway between Ellensburg, Wa and Leavenworth, WA, the Swauk Forest provides for a great example of what the eastern Cascade Mountains have to offer. The conditions on the hiking trail were great, with nice wide trail around the majority of the loop. Numerous tree falls had been recently cleared, an indicator that the trail was recently maintained and is actively cared for.

Well Maintained trail conditions on the Swauk Discovery Trail
Trail blocking tree recently cleared from the trail
Trailside Bench Amongst the Ponderosa Pines
Tall Grasses and Tall Trees in the Swauk Forest

There are some excellent views along the discovery tail, both at declared viewpoints and various points along the trail. Since this is a loop trail, don’t forget to look behind you while you are hiking to catch the views in the opposite direction.

The top of Blewett Pass from the Swauk Discovery Trail
Viewpoint with a Bench on the Swauk Trail
Diamond Head Peak from the Trail

After hiking on the trail in the morning, we spent the afternoon doing some exploring of various Gravel Roads in the Swauk Forest area. These were some of the best gravel roads we have traveled on in the eastern cascades, with sweeping views, unique geology and relatively few people.

Long views of the Cascade Mountains from the Swauk Forest
Basalt Columns and Lava Flows casting colorful shades
Unique Geology Formations in the Swauk Forest

After exploring the forest for a while today, we had numerous choices to choose from for dispersed campsites for the night. We ended up staying the night in the Lion Gulch area of the Wenatchee National Forest at a large dispersed campsite that fit our needs nicely. There were open views to the surrounding ridgelines, clear skies to see the stars and a clean campsite; perfect conditions to spend a night in the forest.

Watch the gravel bound episode on youtube for more:

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