Sunday, May 31, 2020

Peshastin Pinnacles

The Stuart Range and the Peshastin Pinnacles
1 mile loop, 250 feet elevation gain
Difficulty: Easy-moderate
Access: Paved road to trailhead, Washington State Parks Discover Pass required

Peshastin Pinnacles- a set of rock formations rising above the Wenatchee River outside the town of Cashmere on the eastern side of the Cascades in Washington State- is perhaps best known for its climbing, but it's also a nice spot to stop by for a leg-stretcher hike for anyone passing by this area. A few trails wind through these sandstone slabs, mainly providing access to climbing areas, but these trails can be combined to make a pretty loop with views of the pinnacles themselves, the Stuart Range, and the valley of the Wenatchee River. There are a number of loops that can be assembled with the trail network here and I'll describe an easier hike on a lower loop through the pinnacles.

I explored Peshastin Pinnacles on the way back from a road trip to the Selkirks. Hikers from the Puget Sound region can reach the park by taking US Highway 2 east across Stevens Pass and past Leavenworth and Peshastin and then turning north (left) onto Dryden Road between Dryden and Cashmere. Dryden Road heads north through some orchards and then makes a broad bend to the left; the parking area for the Peshastin Pinnacles is just a little farther down to the right. There trailhead lot was quite big and was fairly empty on an October Saturday afternoon.

From the parking area, a wide gravel path led uphill to a gate; here, the wide path ended at an intersection with two narrower dirt paths. I chose to hike a clockwise loop and took the left fork here, which headed west and wrapped around the base of the pinnacles. The trail provided nice views of the orchards and filling the valley; nearby Wenatchee is the self-proclaimed Apple Capital of the World. A few peaks of the Stuart Range were visible to the west as well. The trail turned to the north and began ascending as it made its way to the base of a large sandstone slab. There is a network of unmarked trails here: the trail going ahead climbed via short switchbacks alongside the nearby rock pinnacle, while I ended up taking the trail that turned sharply to the right, climbing as it headed south along the outer slopes of the mountain.

Peshastin Pinnacles
This trail made a short and stiff uphill climb as it ascended towards a small ridge; the trail was a bit narrow in places. The views improved dramatically, with many Stuart Range peaks continuing to dominate the view to the west while the notable peak of Cashmere Mountain appeared. The scenery was quite pretty with fall colors in the valley below.

Stuart Range and the Wenatchee River
A set of power lines run through Peshastin Pinnacles State Park and unfortunately they mar the view a little here; to get a slightly better view, I took a short detour path on the left, which climbed steeply over a short stretch to provide views of a small pine tree growing out of a nearby pinnacle; the scenery was oddly remniscent of the rocky peaks of China's Huangshan. Below, the Wenatchee River made a bend as it flowed into the town of Cashmere.

Pinnacle rises over Wenatchee River and the town of Cashmere
Leaving the ridge, the trail began to descend, passing another unmarked trail junction with a path that led steeply uphill. The trail continued to stay in the open here, providing lovely views of the surrounding mountains and of the rocks that make up the Peshastin Pinnacles.

Pinnacles with Cashmere Mountain
A final descent via switchbacks returned me to the base of the mountain but gave some beautiful views of the nearby town of Cashmere and the many orchards along the Wenatchee River. The fall colors in the Wenatchee Valley were stunning. At the base of the mountain, I turned right and found myself back at the start of the loop.

Cashmere from the Peshastin Pinnacles
This is a short hike that is a nice add-on if you're doing another shorter hike in the area on a day trip or if you're passing through on a road trip; the trail is easily accessible from the US Highway 2 and makes for an enjoyable and brief detour.

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