Sequestered along the shores of Lake Chelan surrounded by the formidable peaks and crags of the North Cascades lies a valley of impressive beauty and simplicity. Stehekin is a valley and a village set apart from the pace and “progress” of modernity. Inaccessible except by boat, plane or trail this small enclave of gardens, artists, and naturalists at the northern end of Lake Chelan is the perfect late summer running destination.
Access and Trails
There are a network of trails that braid their way into the Stehekin Valley. We have selected the most scenic passageways that have served as the “way through” for generations of hikers, prospectors, and native peoples since time immemorial. All of these routes pass through the North Cascades National Park and Aspire will coordinate a pair of shuttles that will enable runners to travel in and out of Stehekin via different routes.
Cascade Pass: At the terminus of the Cascade River Road is remote, albeit popular, trailhead leading into some of the most expansive and inspiring views of the North Cascades. A 3.6 mile climb of 1,800 ft. crests with epic views of surrounding Johannesburg Mountain, Mixup Peak, Magic Mountain, and the formidable El Dorado. From atop the pass one can explore the Sahale Arm before dropping into the upper headwaters of the Stehekin River. From the pass the trail parallels the river for another 22 miles to the High Bridge Camp. This camp lies at the upper Stehekin road and is the point of departure for the shuttle leading to the Stehekin Valley Ranch.
Bridge Creek: Near the east-west divide of the Cascades the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the primary road access (Highway 20) to the Cascades. From the Bridge Creek trailhead this iconic trail is the most direct portal to Stehekin. The PCT follows the Bridge Creek drainage connecting with the Stehekin River and the upper Stehekin road in approximately 17 miles. The scenic alternatives to this direct thoroughfare include an additional 10 mile lollipop loop over Heather and Maple Pass or alternate routes over McCalester Pass (19 miles) or a route between Bowan Mountain and Rainbow Lake (25 miles).
Once runners have arrived in the valley, day two is much more flexible. One has the option spending the day lakeside lounging, making the stop at the world famous Stehekin bakery, and exploring the selection of historical sites in the valley. Or one can also choose trail exploration in combination with lounge time. A variety of options lengths and routes are available, with the most notable being the trail up McGregor Mountain.
McGregor Mountain: To access the highest point and grandest views of the Stehekin Valley, it is a 7.5 mile and 6,500 ft climb to the summit of McGregor. The near 100 switchbacks transports runners above treeline to a dry and rocky alpine-scape studded with larches and ever expansive mountain views. Atop the trail a short scramble rewards runners with the true summit of McGregor, remnants of an old lookout tower, and epic views of Lake Chelan and some of the North Cascades most iconic summits.
Running to Stehekin means hot showers, home cooked meals, and sleeping in comfortable beds. For this trip Aspire has partnered with the Stehekin Valley Ranch for food and lodging. The Ranch offers home cooked meals and both furnished cabins and rustic tent cabins.
Tent Cabins are built with wood frame walls, have canvas roofs and screened in windows. They are furnished with queen, double, and twin beds (configurations vary by cabin), small dressers and night stands, and kerosene and battery operated lanterns. All cabins are within 250' of the main Ranch Building, which houses the common bathrooms and showers.
Ranch Cabins are fully enclosed sleeping cabins with their own private bathroom with shower. These cabins also have electric lights, and limited outlets. Furnished with queen and twin beds, a futon or daybed, armoire, and a table with chairs.
9:00am. Course check in. Burlington WA
Meet in the parking lot of Bob’s Burgers and Brews
Address: 9440 Old Hwy 99 N, Bow, WA 98232
Look for the green Suburban with “Aspire Adventure Running” decals
9:30. Depart for Cascade Pass and Bridge Creek Trailheads.
12:30. Approximate trailhead arrival time.
Run to High Bridge Camp
5:20: Shuttle to Stehekin Valley Ranch
5:30: Stehekin Valley Ranch Check In
7:00-? Chill Time
8:00am. Shuttle to High Bridge
8:30am. Shuttle to Bakery and Lake.
2:15pm. Shuttle to High Bridge, Return shuttle to Ranch
5:20pm. Shuttle, High Bridge to Ranch
7:00-? Chill Time
8:00am. Shuttle to High Bridge
Run back to the Aspire shuttle vehicles. Bridge Creek or Cascade Pass.
1:00-3:00. Arrival at Aspire vehicles.
5:00pm. Arrival Burlington. Dinner at Bob’s Burgers and Brews.
Running Gear: Each runner is responsible for their own running kit including snacks and clothing appropriate for the possibility of rain and/or snow and/or daytime temperatures in the mid 70’s.
Ranch Gear: Comfortable evening and sleepwear, personal toiletries and accessories can either be packed into the valley or they can be mailed in advance to Stehekin Valley Ranch. Address: P.O. Box 36 Stehekin, WA 98852
Every year we have at least one runner who due to injury, illness, or personal/familial circumstances can not participate in their registered trip. While registrations can be transferred, Aspire does not issue refunds. See our FAQ’s. We strongly encourage each runner to purchase 3rd party trip insurance that will reimburse the cost of registration in the event that you are unable to participate in the event.
Aspire courses are non-competitive runs that embrace the challenge and adventure of traveling in wild and scenic terrain. Each event operates in accordance with its respective wilderness land use designation and authorization. Course fees include: transportation, the safety net of a trail guide, and a post run celebratory meal. Check out our website for more information: www.AspireAdventureRunning.com
Local time: 4:02 AM