When friends came to visit in April, I knew that seeing the Washington wildflowers would be a special, unique spring opportunity. And when it came down to choosing on the morning of between Mount Si in the rain or a sunshine-filled wildflower excursion, it was an easy decision to make! We planned a day to Leavenworth, where the weather was looking to be mostly sunny and we could escape the Seattle area rain forecast, and hiked the Icicle Ridge Trail to enjoy the legendary wildflowers in the area.

Wildflowers in all their glory

Icicle Ridge Trail

Hiked: last day of April
Best time to hike: April-September
Distance from Seattle: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Accessibility: Entirely paved highway and road, except for dirt parking area
Length: 6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Crowds: Light on our way up, moderate on our way down (caveat – we went on a Friday!)
Trail views: Mountains, flowers, outskirts of Leavenworth town, a bit of a river…

First things first: this is a major day hike from Seattle. It is quite a far drive! The entire drive is gorgeous though, so that makes it easier. From the mountains of I-90 to the rolling green hills of highway 97, it was scenic 95% of the journey. The area is also accessible via highway 2; I simply went with highway 90 because that was what Google Maps suggested. I would be curious to drive more of highway 2 as well because the parts I’ve seen are also gorgeous.

We arrived at the trailhead around 11:45 am on a Friday. We actually missed the small sign for the trail on our first attempt and ended up looping back more slowly to find the trailhead. The trailhead area doesn’t have that much parking, but we were easily able to park along the side of the road near the trail.

The trail is dusty and dry — the driest I’ve been on in Washington thus far. It actually reminded me in some places more of California.

Floral explosion early on in the trail! I hear these are called balsamroot.

The entire way up the trail is exposed, which is great for the views. As you climb, you’ll see the outskirts of Leavenworth spread below you, a river, and the mountains in the backdrop. I really appreciated that it was non-stop views pretty much the entirety of the hike.

It’s fairly narrow, too, one that you will definitely hike single file.

An idea of the style of the trail: narrow, dusty, exposed
The trail winding in and out of the (rather sparse) trees

Though the trail only climbs about 1,800 feet, if you go on a sunny spring day, you really feel it because of the heat. It’s almost entirely switchbacks for the duration of the hike. I was quite sweaty by the time we reached the top of the ridge.

Near the top of the ridge, when you’ll start to get 360 views of the surrounding mountains

This hike was made more special by the fact that I got to share it with one of my best friends and her husband. We couldn’t have asked for a better day or a better trail to bask in the joy of spring!

Views from the top of the ridge

Tips for Icicle Ridge Trail

  • Get an early start if you’re going during wildflower season. Even on a Friday, the trailhead parking area was decently full.
  • Stop for a massive cookie & coffee at The Rock on your drive in. It’s impossible to miss on the right side of the road about 20-30 minutes before the trailhead. The cookie was soo tasty and a fun snack for the hike!
  • Bring sun protection and lots of water. This trail is almost entirely exposed. You will want sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses, as well as large bottles of water. On a 70-degree day, we were quite warm.
  • Watch for ticks. I pulled two off my dog while we were hiking, and despite searching her thoroughly when we got home, found two more a few days later. Make sure if you bring your dog, that you have applied tick medication recently! I use this one for my dog. I’m also planning to hose my clothing with permethrin for summer hiking moving forward (Amazon affiliate links).
  • After your hike, grab a sausage dog as your reward in the town of Leavenworth. It’s famous for being a “German town” and sausage spots are plentiful. It’s also great to have a nice outdoor meal after a day on the trail. We stopped at Sausage Garten and enjoyed it.

All in all, this was a fantastic spring day trip, and one I would definitely recommend doing!

Posted by:Elizabeth

Wandering Californian living in Seattle. Nature-loving, thrill-seeking weekend adventurer. Storyteller.

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