The Icicle Gorge trail is one of the more mellow trails that line the Icicle Creek valley in Leavenworth. And while it doesn't provide the sweeping views of other thigh burning hikes in the area, this loop hike along Icicle Creek has beautiful vistas of Icicle Creek and Icicle Gorge, a well maintained trail with interpretive signs and makes for a perfect family hike.
You can hike the trail in either direction, but it is typically done in a clockwise fashion. From the parking lot, head towards the information kiosk and proceed along the trail and turn left to begin the loop. Hike above Icicle Creek on a well maintained path and cross the river upon reaching the Icicle Creek Footbridge. Follow the trail for approximately two miles as it winds its way through forest and along the creek. Take the Forest Service Road 7600 bridge across Icicle Creek and locate the trail next to Rock Creek Campground. Follow the trail for a little over a mile and a half, and take the side trail to the parking lot.
On a recent trip to Seattle I left my laptop behind, but fortunately one of my friends was headed to the Icicle Creek area to drop his daughter and a couple of friends off for a week of trail work. We agreed to rendezvous at Chatter Creek Guard Station at 3pm and go on a hike in the area. With my wife and eight year old son accompanying me, and the late start, we needed a moderate hike and Icicle Gorge fit the bill perfectly.
Given it was the fourth of July weekend, I was expecting a completely full trailhead, but there were only a handful of cars there. I suspect earlier in the day it was much busier. My friend told us his daughter was spending the week working on the very trail we were hiking on. We wondered what they would be working on while hiking the first section, as the trail is very well maintained (further along in the hike we found a couple areas that could a little brush cutting 😄 ).
A short while later we caught our first views of Icicle Creek, and the trail continued along above the river. About a half mile after the start, we reached the Icicle Creek Footbridge over the Gorge. It is a very scenic spot, and I took the opportunity to climb down the rocks closer to the water to snap a few pics of the gorge and footbridge, before crossing over to the other side and continuing on our way.
After walking along the river for a bit, the trail turned south into the forest. There was a series of raised wooden platforms that took us through a cedar swamp. While much of the hike is through drier terrain, similar to what we have in the Lake Chelan area, this part reminded me of my old stomping grounds in areas west of the cascade crest, with denser and greener vegetation and more ferns.
The trail continued along through the forest, and we encountered one muddy section, although it was straightforward enough to make it through without getting covered in mud. There were a couple of interpretive signs along the way, providing interesting information about the surroundings.
The trail eventually made its way back along the river, and we found a nice cluster of rocks along the bank and plunked down for a water and food break. It's a beautiful river, and we could have spent a much longer time here, but we had reservations at Yodelin Broth Company at 6:30pm and were already a little behind schedule.
Back on the trail, we made our way through a mix of terrain, including a couple via wooden bridges over creeks, some open grassy meadows, and of course, splendid views of Icicle Creek.
Father down the trail we noticed some folks enjoying the water, and shortly thereafter came to a bridge and could see Rock Island Campground across the river. It was entirely clear where we would pick the trail up again as we walked across the bridge, but as we passed by Rock Island Campground we noticed a trail and signage for the Icicle Gorge trail.
We had a little less than a mile and a half to go to finish the hike, and we were definitely running late at this point, so we picked up the pace as we walked along the north bank of Icicle Creek. The trail mostly stayed along the river, with occasional turns into the forest.
We reached the parking lot around 6:15pm, and headed back into Leavenworth for a well deserved beer and meal at Yodelin Broth Company. The hike was great, and perfect for the family. I realized we hadn't encountered a single other person on the trail during the hike, wihch made it even more magical.