Sage Hills (April 28, 2013)

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sage_hills_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: camera
Map: (below)
Area: Wenatchee
Reference: Day Hiking Central Cascades
Stats: 8.75mi, 1541' gain (round trip)

Once again I found myself heading east...looking for color. I've been having good luck this year and was hoping the trend would continue. I checked out the guide book and scoped out two easy hikes that I figured I could do today to get some reasonable mileage and gain in. I ended up spending so much time at the first one (Sage Hills) that I never made it to the second one (Saddle Rock).

Sage Hills...the guide book has you park at the wide spot for the Lester Trail. If I return, I'd likely head to the Day Road Access Point to avoid the 1/4mi road walk to get the Lester TH.

The trail system is primarily for mountain bikers though there were all sorts of other users out (hikers, trail runners) and every was more than agreeable about sharing the trail :)

From the Lester TH there were a couple of very short switchbacks and then the trail headed north. At some point (must be under the power lines ?) the Lester Trail turns into the Sage Hills Trail which then does a few long, easy switchbacks up to the 5-Trail Saddle. Lower down the flowers were going good. I was pretty happy. Some looked a bit past peak but I wasn't going to complain. Balsamroot, lupine...tons of it was about. At the 5-Trail junction, I headed up the "intermediate" Coyote Canyon trail. Higher up along this trail the flowers were going gang busters. Incredible. I've never seen a balsamroot flower show quite this spectacular. Everyone I encountered on the trail, mountain bikers as well, had cameras out snapping photos.

I decided to keep going....up...up...up... The trails were all easy for hiking. Lots of places to step aside for the bikers. I was surprised though that for such a nice day, that had a nice cool breeze, that there weren't more bikers out. It really did feel like I had the place to myself. At the next junction I headed up the Lightning Trail, another "intermediate" trail. Lower down were a couple of switchback, higher up the trail rounded a shoulder and entered a more flat meadow area. The Lightning trail was loaded with wildflowers. Balsamroot so think the hillsides were solid yellow. Lupine so fragrant it smelled like a candy store. Death camas, phlox, larkspur, tritella, phacelia, woodland star...

Eventually it was time to head down. I later learned I could have made a nice loop trip for the day but today I headed back down the way I came up.

This place looks like an awesome place to head back to. Next time, I'll bring my bike :)
Sage Hills Slideshow

 sage_hills_map1  sage_hills_map2
(click on maps to view larger versions)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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