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Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness

General Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 153,057 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Washington and is managed by the Forest Service. The Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness is bordered by the Stephen Mather Wilderness to the northwest.

Description

Long, lean, and lovely best describes Lake Chelan. From Chelan's northeastern shore, this secluded Wilderness rears rapidly skyward to the crest of bold Sawtooth Range, which cuts diagonally through the area, rising serenely from the south to fall off dramatically on the north faces. Northeast of the crest, the terrain drops into the valley of the Twisp River only to climb again into a subrange. Wolf Creek and other creek drainages have cut deep ravines through much of the area, with elevations ranging from 1,100 feet to 9,000 feet. You'll find 63 lakes, many too small to have ever been named, often tucked into scenic cirques in the high country and without trail access. A pleasant forest covers the ground below the tree line, home to bears and mule deer. Winters are colder and summers hotter than in western Washington.

To me, one appealing aspect of this Wilderness is its lack of direct road access on the south and west sides. All trailheads on the south side, on Lake Chelan, must be gained via a regularly scheduled ferry boat or a private craft. From the roadless town of Stehekin, the northern terminus of the ferry, the Lakeshore Trail follows the lake south for 18 miles, with 14 miles within the Wilderness. Trails entering from the west first cross North Cascades National Park or Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. The Twisp River road offers easier access to the Wilderness from the east. Park-like ridges and open forests encourage you to leave the trail for relatively easy bushwhacking travel. A high-quality Wilderness experience awaits.

A Recreation Pass is required at some trailheads accessing the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.

Planning to Visit the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.



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