“Leavenworth is an adventurer’s nirvana,” says Leslie Schipper. “You can visit any time of the year because all seasons offer a variety of outdoor activities and the small town has a young, welcoming, vibrant community feel.”
The yogi, outdoor blogger, and Hawaii-transplant behind Forever Stoked, Schipper knows a thing or two about the Pacific Northwest. She may live in Seattle, but nowhere feels more like home than Leavenworth, Washington, just two hours away. Here, she shares her favorite local spots for a summer day in her mountain-shadowed home-away-from-home.
I personally love visiting in the summer because you get the most sunlight and even when the sun sets around 9:30-10pm, it’s warm enough to remain outside and star gaze.
What To Pack
Hiking boots or trail shoes, a bathing suit for river fun such as kayaking, rafting, tubing, or swimming, a road or mountain bike, a daypack filled with sunscreen and water, and a grolwer to fill up on your way out of town at Icicle Brewing Company.
If you want to stay close to the action in town, the Bavarian Lodge has rustic styled rooms, a micro-pub, friendly staff and is a stone’s throw away from main street. If you’re looking for a quieter, mountain- retreat type experience, you can book cabins through VRBO and AirBnb.
Pitch your tent at Lower Johnny Creek, Eightmile Campground or Nason Creek (about 20 minutes from town). Keep in mind all campsites are first come, first serve.
The Morning Cuppa
Head for Argonaut Espresso. The power couple of Noah and Lindsey started this sidewalk espresso bar out of their love for coffee and adventure, and they recently expanded their hours and menu to include lunch and have added my absolute favorite: avocado toast.
The Morning Run
Ski Hill, which is primarily used for Nordic skiing in the winter, is great place to run once the snow has melted because of the numerous routes to choose from. It’s wise to take a look at the trail map before you go to plan out your mileage.
The Hunters Wife serves nourishing juices and smoothies, and the family who owns and runs daily operations are super passionate about health and sharing it with the community.
Sulla Vita is great for groups and sharing tapas and a bottle of wine out on the patio. For a locally sourced, farm-to-table dinner, try Watershed. It’s great for date night, and they have two-seating reservation times so call ahead to book.
The Watering Holes
Visit Posey Handpicked Goods for adorable curated goods, Leavenworth Mountain Sports for outdoor needs and I never leave town without stopping by The Oil & Vinegar Shop to pick up a few bottles for my house and as gifts for others.
The Greatest Hits
Hike: Colchuck Lake is one of my favorite hikes in the entire state and one of the most popular for good reason. At eight miles roundtrip and an overall elevation gain of 2,300 feet, the hike is accessible to most hiking levels and at the top you’re left gazing into a majestic blue lake with Dragon Tail and Colchuck Peak towering above you. The trail continues to Asgard Pass, a 2000-foot climb in just three-quarters of a mile, and gets you to the Enchantment Lake Basin. If you are lucky enough to have the time, but more importantly the permit, you can stay overnight in this rugged, magnificent alpine paradise. The Forest Service has limited the overnight permit season to help manage the increased visitor use and keep human impact at a minimum. Permits for overnight stays are required from May 15th through October 31st.
Climb: Named one of the top ten climbing cities in the US, droves of climbing enthusiasts come to Leavenworth each year to enjoy the experience. I would recommend picking up a Leavenworth Rock climbing guide book and/or stop by Leavenworth Mountain Sports for advice and gear.
Bike: Leavenworth is a great spot for mountain biking adventures (classic rides include Freund Canyon, Rosy Boa, Devils Gulch, Xanado) and road biking with my favorite being the Chumstick-Chiwawa loop.
Kayak/Raft/Tube: Tumwater Canyon or Wenatchee River. A few years ago a group of friends and I booked a trip with Osprey Rafting Co. to experience world-class whitewater and rapids with the safety of a guide.
Tourist: In the early 1960s, town leaders decided to change Leavenworth’s appearance to help draw visitors and somehow decided on a German Bavarian theme. Inspired by countryside of Bavarian Germany, architecture, specialty shops and festivals have revived the town and bring over one million tourists a year.
Wake up early with the sun, ride your bike into town and grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich at Argonaut Espresso and get on a trail. Refresh with an acai bowl or smoothie from the Hunter’s Wife before changing into swimsuits to float or paddle board down the Wenatchee River. Post up in a hammock while the sun is still out and chill with a good book.
Then, go to locally sourced, farm-to-table restaurant Watershed and allow your server to order you food. Everything on the menu is fantastic and changes with the season. Grab a nightcap brew at Icicle Brewing Company and then head a few miles out of town for darkness to lie down on the grass and look at the stars.
The Local Know-How
There are festivals almost every weekend. From a Blue’s festival to Bird Festival, Oktoberfest to uber popular Christmas Lighting festival, campsites, hotels and vacation rentals fill up quick!
Leslie Schipper is a weekend warrior who has made proximity to nature a top priority. With an insatiable desire for travel and adventure, her free time is spent hiking mountain ranges, camera always in hand, and writing about it on her blog Forever Stoked.