Tumwater Pipeline Trail

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Added by Lindsy Dugan

Lots of rock climbers with their crash pads.Passed a number of people with swim suits and fishing poles that grab one of the beaches along the river to hang for the day.Leasierly walk along the river, great for all ages.

Walk on an old pipeline right-of-way along the crashing Wenatchee River in a deep and impressive canyon. The hike is easy and the scenery is breathtaking. Come in spring for flowers, fall for color, and anytime to take a short trip back into time. For railroad and history buffs, the Tumwater Pipeline Trail is an outdoor museum.

When the Great Northern Railway abandoned its route over Stevens Pass and opted to go under the pass instead, its exhaust-emitting steam engines proved problematic in the long tunnel. So the line switched over to electric engines between Skykomish and Leavenworth. The railroad built a dam on the Wenatchee River (the dam is still there about 3 miles upriver from the trailhead) and ran a pipeline (penstock) down to a generating plant to produce electricity for the locomotives. In 1956 the railroad switched to diesel, abandoning the pipeline and power plant.

The trail starts at the site of the power plant, where parts of the foundation remain. Head off through a pine grove graced with big boulders and soon come to what no doubt will be the most popular feature on this hike for many, an old iron bridge spanning the river. Built to carry the pipeline across the water, the bridge offers exhilarating viewing of the Wenatchee River. Come in spring to watch kayakers and rafters riding the rapids. But be prepared for a wet crossing early in the season, when deep pools of water collect on the bridge.

Once across, follow the gentle trail along the river through Tumwater Canyon. Cottonwoods and maples adorn the trail and add touches of gold and crimson come October. At about 0.5 mile rock-hop across a side creek. Pass by big boulders and nice sandy beaches on the river. But before you're tempted to soak in the crystal waters, be forewarned. The word Tumwater is derived from Chinook Jargon, meaning strong or falling water. This is not an understatement here. In the summer of 2006 two teenagers swimming in the river were swept away and drowned. It's best not to soak more than feet in the powerful Wenatchee.

As you continue upriver, pass through pleasant pine groves-peaceful if not for the churn of the river and the hum of zooming vehicles on the opposite bank. Across the river, Castle Rock, a craggy protruding thumb favored by rock climbers, soon comes into view. Admire it and the clambering souls trying to subdue it. At 1.2 miles the trail abruptly ends where once a tunnel bore through the jumbled rocks and ledges that now impede further travel.

(Description from https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/tumwater?searchterm=tumwater+pipeline)

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Known for

Rock Climbing
Chillin
Fishing
Swimming
Hiking
Bathrooms
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
River
Scenic

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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