This snowshoe route located off of Highway 2 just west of Leavenworth is the best of both worlds. Whether you prefer mountain vistas or alpine lakes, the Hatchery Creek snowshoe trail can deliver both. Named for a now abandoned fish hatchery, the route primarily follows Forest Service roads, but the views are worth it.
The trailhead is located 8.6 miles west of Leavenworth, right next to the sign for the Tumwater campgrounds. Park your car out of sight, but not out of earshot from Highway 2, and start the hike right away. About halfway up the mountain trail, look for a turnoff for a bonus small lake trail. This little trial is easy to miss, so keep your map with you. This short hike to a pristine alpine lake is well worth the detour, just be sure to stay off the ice if you're unsure about its stability.
After the small lake detour, continue to the top of the snowshoe trail, where you'll encounter the summer trailhead for the Hatchery Creek Trail. Snow in this area can be prone to heavy avalanches, so if you made it this far, and the Northwest Avalanche Center is issuing warnings, it's a good spot to turn around. If the avalanche conditions allow for it, continue as far as you like, expecting to lose the trail and welcome even grander views of the entire Wenatchee River Valley.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.