The afternoon shadows grow long and light shines golden. Berry bushes blush with color. Distant peaks are a patchwork of lingering snow. Just the thought of autumn in the Cascades can get you waxing poetic. What better place to relish the season than from Poet’s Ridge, a.k.a. Wenatchee Ridge, in the Lake Wenatchee area.

The ridge includes several “poet” peaks including Irving, Longfellow, and Bryant. With its soaring view and relatively easy access, Poe Mountain is most popular. Two different trails lead to Poe. This describes the shadier, more gradual approach, in which you’ll drive to 4,200 feet, gain the ridge quickly, and then follow the trail northwest to the 6,015 foot peak.

The trail gets to work right away, climbing 900 feet in the mile from the trailhead to a wooded saddle called Irving Pass. Skip the faint track that drops over the ridge (does it go to Sleepy Hollow?) and instead follow Trail 1543 to the left. The trail climbs through an outcrop, and then follows the mostly wooded ridge, with occasional peek-a-boo views starting about a mile and a half in.

Hiking west along the ridge

About two miles from the car the ridge widens and the trees become interspersed with small meadows, berry patches, and bigger viewpoints. After a few scenic ups and downs along the ridge, you’ll finally gain the summit three long but pleasant miles from the trailhead. There has been no water enroute, so make sure you’ve carried plenty.

The views from the former lookout site on Poe Mountain are head-spinning.

View from the summit of Poe Mountain
Mountain boy

Immediately ahead, the ridge continues northwest to Bryant and Longfellow peaks. To the west, you’ll see the lush expanse of Meander Meadow, the spine of East Cady Ridge, and the area around Dishpan Gap on the Pacific Crest Trail. Glacier Peak looms as a backdrop. Savor the scene and come up with your own poetry to match the occasion. On the way down, perhaps you’ll even hear Edgar Allan Poe’s famous raven. Did that bird just say “nevermore?”

Descending from Poe Mountain

Directions: On Route 2 drive 19 miles past Stevens Pass then turn left at Squirrel Tree Corner towards Lake Wenatchee State Park. A  few miles past the lake take another left onto Little Wenatchee River Road 6500, . About 2 miles past Lake Creek Campground turn right onto Forest Road 6504. The road switchbacks up for about 4 miles to the trailhead.

 

Miles/elevation gain: 6 miles RT/ 2000 foot gain

Passes required: Northwest Forest Pass

Type: Day hike

Maps: Green Trails No. 144 Benchmark Mountain

Facilities at trailhead: Small parking area at a switchback

Note: Since this hike is about a three hour drive from Seattle, make a weekend out of it by lodging in Leavenworth or camping at Lake Wenatchee State Park or any of several other nearby campgrounds. On your second day pick from other stellar hikes in the area including Spider Meadows, Carne Mountain, or Nason Ridge/Rock Mountain.

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