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Happy trails

By on May 23, 2021 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments
Spring Canyon Loop with a view toward the Wenatchee Mountains (Mission Ridge is slightly hidden on left skyline)

Cashmere Canyons — New front-country trail system developed through the generosity of landowners

STORY AND PHOTOS 

By Andy Dappen

Twenty-some years ago when my wife and I moved to Central Washington, the central question for us was: Wenatchee or Cashmere? 

A big reason we chose Wenatchee was its front-country access to trails at Saddle Rock, Castle Rock, the Sage Hills, and along the Columbia River. 

With such trails, we could get a daily fix of the outdoors with little or no driving.  Cashmere was not quite so blessed in 1999. 

If we were relocating to Central Washington today, our decision would be harder because Cashmere has made significant strides in its immediate access to outdoor recreation. 

Balsamroot and bare-stem desert parsley

The most recent case in point: The Cashmere Canyons Preserve with 8.5 miles of new trails for walkers, trail runners, birders, and outdoor photographers.

The story behind this new offering is an unusual one involving the generous spirit of the Hay Canyon Ranch landowners and managers — Jabe Blumenthal, Julie Edsforth and Don Poirier — who as early as 2007 began exploring the possibility of opening some of the trails on the Hay Canyon Ranch to the public. 

Also critical to the story is the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT), which was contacted to explore the establishment of a conservation easement on the ranch and the creation of a trailhead (with parking and a toilet) so the public could hike here.

A decade later the stars began to align when the Land Trust approached the owner of a property a few miles up Nahahum Canyon Road that would make a sensible trailhead and that would provide a connection to trails on the Hay Canyon Ranch. The owner was open to selling this parcel and the project finally grew legs. 

Stumps atop Little Bear to enjoy the view and take a load off.

Conservation easements were drafted between the Hay Canyon landowners and the Land Trust, the Land Trust applied and received state funding to build a trailhead, old overgrown roads on the Hay Canyon Ranch were converted into trails, some segments of new trails were built, and signage for the trails was developed. 

Presto — over a four-year period Cashmere’s newest trail system, officially named the Cashmere Canyons Preserve, “suddenly” blinked into existence.

In April of 2021, this new trail system opened — and what a time it was for this debutante to have her debut! 

With an unusually intense bloom of balsamroots, lupines and desert parsleys, and with a thick cloak of snow coating the many high-mountain views, this was a flowerfully powerful coming-out party.  

By early June the flowers on the preserve’s lower trails will have baked and wilted. On the high loops of the system, however, colorful stands of wildflowers will still persist. 

So before the heat and brown landscape of summer hit, get out and sample these new trails. 

But be forewarned of this sinister danger: Hiking here may have you pondering whether you should move to Cashmere.

Details: Hiking 

Cashmere Canyons

RULES. No dogs — including dogs on leash or service dogs. No bikes. No motorized anything (including drones). No horses. No evening or nighttime use of the trails. No hunting. No off-trail travel (at any time of the year). Several spur roads are closed and so marked — respect those closures, remembering that the ability to enjoy any of these lands is a gift, not a right.  

WELCOMED USERS: Walkers (without dogs), birders (with binoculars), rubber neckers (with cameras), trail runners (with tongues hanging out), and snowshoers (but not skiers). 

ACCESS. The only legal public access to the trails is from the new trailhead built up Nahahum Canyon. From the intersection of East Nahahum Road and Nahahum Canyon Road at the bottom of the canyon, drive 2.4 miles (uphill) to the trailhead. At the trailhead there is parking for about 20 vehicles and a vault toilet.

If the parking lot is full (possible on nice weekends) do not park on the shoulder of the main road. This is not legal and you can be ticketed. 

Illegal parking also clogs the main road and angers the residents living along the Nahahum Canyon Road, jeopardizing the on-going use of the trails. If the trailhead is full, be prepared to drive and hike elsewhere.

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