Seattle's Child

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Sage Hills wildflower hike in Wenatchee is worth the trek

It’s the perfect time to get out and explore this dusty trail 

If dusty trails winding through sprawling hillsides with vibrant yellow and purple wildflowers set your heart alight, then make your way to Wenatchee. Spring is in full bloom, and we have hiking recommendations guaranteed to enthrall little adventurers – and floral enthusiasts. You can’t pick these flowers for a bouquet, but snap a picture to last a lifetime.  

Where to go and where to stay for your wildflower getaway

Wenatchee is about a three-hour drive from Seattle. Make a day trip over the mountains or spend the weekend exploring Wenatchee and Leavenworth. There are many campgrounds in the area you can book, like Lake Wenatchee (about an hour’s drive from Wenatchee) or the KOA campground in Leavenworth 

Wenatchee’s wildflower destination: Sage Hills trail

There are many trails to explore in the rolling foothills just outside Wenatchee. Sage Hills is a popular hiking destination—and for good reason. The trek loops around to about 5.5 miles but can be extended to over 12 miles. Make your hike as long or as short as your little travelers will allow.

Wild sage, arrowleaf balsamroot, and purple lupine are abundant along the trails, dotting the open meadows and hillsides. As the trails lead you upward through the hills, you can take in sights of the Wenatchee Valley and the beautiful Columbia River below. You’ll share the trails with trail runners, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, but don’t let that deter you.

Picnic spot and views

As you begin, the elevation gain is relatively mellow, and the wildflowers keep the kids running along the trail. Less than a mile into the trail, we picnicked at a large rock formation, and my little ones let their imaginations run wild as they explored the towering stone structures.  

The trails continue and can be tricky to navigate (many diverting paths are either closed or are meant for vehicles), so take a picture of the trail system before you head out. We trekked about 5 miles in a dazzling loop that granted us spectacular valley views and access to wildflowers.

You can hike as far as 12 miles if you want to pack on some miles – and gain a bit more elevation. With my novice hikers and their little legs, we were conservative in our endeavor, not wanting to push our luck and tackle the switchbacks to the hillside peaks. 

The only thing I don’t love about the hike is the power lines obstructing the wild views. It’s a small thing, but I would be remiss not to mention it.

Parking

Permits are not required, and parking can be a bit tricky. The Sage Hills Gateway Trail Access parking lot is incredibly small, only able to accommodate seven to eight cars. If the parking lot is full, don’t park in the residential area where the trail begins—you will get a ticket. Washington Trails Association has a few recommendations for alternative parking lots, including Horse Lake Preserve and Balsamroot Trail Access.  

We got lucky and snagged the last spot in the tiny parking lot.

All in the details: What to take and where else to go

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead. It’s usually pretty warm during spring and summer, so pack lots of water. There is no shade along the trail, so you’ll be exposed to sunshine and the elements, including wind. We always pack a lot of sunscreen, layers, water, snacks, and hats. As I mentioned above, the trail is dusty, so expect to collect a little dust on your boots, shoes and socks along the way. If it’s rainy, that dust will turn to mud. Pack for the weather, rain or shine. Note: Watch for snakes on this hike. Having hiking sticks will help create noise and keep the creatures away.

Horse Lake Preserve is another option for families. We haven’t done this hike, but we heard great things about it. It is a little more than five miles long, with an elevation gain of under 1,000 feet. You’ll also get similar views. The trail opened on April 1, so you’re just in time to enjoy this hike’s sights.  

Remember, hiking isn’t always about tracking miles, it’s about making memories. There are no parking permits required.  

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About the Author

Kathryn Mueller

Kathryn Mueller is a mama of three toddlers and calls Shoreline home. When she's not wrangling her little ones, she's a writer, winery owner and outdoor enthusiast. She enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her little ones in tow and can usually be found with a coffee in hand.