Autumn in Leavenworth
The little town of Leavenworth, WA is high up on our list of favorite mountain towns. It’s not your typical mountain town, but one with a bit of a twist. Originally a logging town that failed, it was looking for a way to revive its economy and eventually settled on an idea. To become a German-themed town…and they pulled it off! Read about our first experience in Leavenworth here.
It’s a magical location in the winter with snow on the ground and on the roofs of the Bavarian style architecture, not to mention the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. There are breweries, Christmas shops, art galleries, delicious German food, bakeries, and wine tastings on every other corner if you’re into that sort of thing. And that’s just in the town itself. The town is a gateway to excellent hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, bouldering, whitewater kayaking, snowboarding, etc. In short, it’s an outdoor oasis.
Now that I’ve visited in the 3 seasons, summer, winter, and now fall, I’ve seen the beauty it offers at a variety of times. And I’ve gotta say, I’m not sure which I prefer, but I do know that I was in awe of how beautiful it was in autumn with the changing of the trees.
I spent the weekend exploring outside of town at one of my favorite locations, the Tumwater Canyon, doing a small hike and taking photos. When the sun comes over the mountains and bathes the adjacent ridges with yellow foliage in a golden light it’s stunning. Along the short 3-4 mile hike on the Tumwater Pipeline trail, I encountered a plethora of what the area offers. For one, the fall foliage. I also came along a few groups bouldering on some prime routes, a large group of kayakers running some rapids, and some climbers doing a huge route. This got me amped up and planning some trips for next year 🙂
After the hike, I met up with the Kayakers back at the parking lot, shared the photos of them that I got, and received a great recommendation for mountain biking.
So with that, I headed up the Chumstick highway to Freund Canyon to hop on the bike. With the trailhead being about 15 minutes outside of Leavenworth, it’s easily accessible. Meaning, if you have family hanging out in Leavenworth, you can easily do a full loop in less than 2 hours. Check out the trail page here.
Now, I haven’t ridden tons of trails yet during my time in Washington, but this trail is a great one! The trail starts off slow by climbing up a dirt road. Even the beginning of the single track is slow and under the forest canopy. Climb a little further and the view opens up when you traverse a short ridgeline. Drink in the view.
Push a little further to reach 3,000 ft and take a quick breather before dropping in, because if you’re out of shape like me, then your tongue is caught in your spokes. Now you’re in for a real treat! The downhill is blazing fast with tame jumps and a continuous string of berms that you can lay into…careful about washing out, it’s quite the drop! The run has great flow and you’re guaranteed a good time.
Doing it in my typical style, I camped for the night. Although, I did actually have to pay this time since I stayed at Lake Wenatchee State Park. It’s a beautiful park, which is self-explanatory since it’s a lake surrounded by mountains. The night was beautiful and I had the entire beach to myself so I set up the camera and got some photos, as well as a short time-lapse of the clouds rolling in and swallowing up the stars.
The next morning was not what I expected from the forecast, the entire area was engulfed in fog so dense you could barely see your hand at the end of your arm. Nevertheless, this made for a beautiful and eerie scene that is classic northwest conditions in my mind. After making some new photography friends and spending some time shooting, I moved along.
Michael tipped me off to a spot with an Aspen tree grove, so I couldn’t pass up checking it out. Spending some time on the backroads outside of Leavenworth, I eventually came to Mountain Springs Lodge. It may or may not have been what he was talking about, but it fit the bill. Nestled in the valley with mountains in the distance, wild turkeys grazing, and abundant fall colors, I had to spend a few hours here.
Not getting my fill from the day before, I returned to Freund Canyon for another run. Before leaving home I had every intention of bringing my GoPro to record the ride, but it slipped my forgetful mind. In a failed attempt to record the run I managed to lodge my phone tightly into the chest strap of my Camelbak, but the camera doesn’t have a wide enough view for the video to be watchable. Next time, I’ll remember…
All in all, it was a perfect weekend of hiking, mountain biking, photography, and fantastic fall weather! And, I made it home just in time to catch the first episode of Stranger Things 2…it’s so good, by the way. Until next time Leavenworth.
Great locations for fall colors:
- Chumstick Highway
- Mountain Springs Lodge
- Tumwater pipeline trail
- The whole way along I-90 and highway 97