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Southern Part of the Cascade Loop Part 2 – Leavenworth, Deceptive Falls, Index, and our Close Encounter with a Black Bear and Big Foot!

After visiting Wenatchee and its surroundings, we headed towards Leavenworth, WA.  If you haven't had the chance, read Exploring The Southern Part of the Cascade Loop Part 1.

Leavenworth is a Bavarian village nestled in the Cascade Mountains along the scenic route of Highway 2. Originally, this area was home to the Yakama, Chinook, and the Wenatchi Native American tribes since the land provided plenty of resources for hunting.  Eventually, settlers arrived in the late 1800s mainly due to mining and timber interests.  The town formerly known as Icicle Flats, was more of a wild west town, which started to die away due to the declining logging and sawmill business.  In the 1960’s, Leavenworth was revitalized by local leaders who came up with the idea to convert it into a Bavarian town to take advantage of its surrounding alpine scenery.  To find more information about the town’s history, visit the Leavenworth Museum.

I must say, the folks who came up with the idea of converting this place into a Bavarian village did a really good job!  The contrast is striking as we arrived at Leavenworth from Wenatchee, it felt like walking into an alpine town in Europe.  We have previously visited Bavarian towns in Germany, and other alpine towns in Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic, and even though is a fake Bavarian town, it looks amazingly legit!

Leavenworth, WA

We lucked out and found parking in one of the main streets of town due to visiting during a weekday.  The weekends get crowded, and traffic is really bad.  After parking, we strolled along Commercial Street, Front Street, and all the “Strassen” in between.  There are gift shops, boutiques, bakeries, ice cream shops, and restaurants.   During the summer river tubing is popular, but we opted to do some hiking due to the various hiking trail options in the area. I found what appeared to be good apple strudel, however my biased senses started to compare the pastry to the delicious apple strudel we tasted in the villages of Austria.  We decided to skip this tasty pastry to keep the magic going, however, the kids loved the ginger cookies at the Ginger Bread Factory, plus the ambiance of the bakery felt like a fairy tale. 

Ginger Bread Factory in Leavenworth, WA

Entrance of the
Ginger Bread Factory 

As we continued exploring, we stopped at the Nut Cracker Museum where Christmas ornaments can be purchased.  The ornaments seem to be imported, since these are pretty similar in craftsmanship and quality to the ornaments, we have purchased at Rothenburg ob der Tauber when visiting Germany. 

Throwback picture from a Christmas shop
in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Our son at the main square of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Around lunch time, we bought sausages at the Munchen Hause, which come with grilled hot-dog style bread buns.  We enjoyed the juicy sausages in the outdoor sitting area of the restaurant in the Front Street.  There are some cool murals in the shops, portraying German culture, such as the Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales.  The kids recognized some of those fairy tales from their bed time stories. 

Eating sausage outside Munchen Hause in Leavenworth, WA

Fairy Tale Murals of the Grimm Brothers, Leavenworth, WA

After lunch, we decided to take a hike at the Waterfront Park, and we walked the trails that run along the Wenatchee River.  We saw people tubing, swimming, and some diving from a bridge (yikes!). 

View from the bridge at the Waterfront Park in Leavenworth

Wenatchee River at the Waterfront Park in Leavenworth

As we hit the road to get to our next base, we stopped in the outskirts of Leavenworth along Highway 2, at the Old Pipeline Bed Trailhead.  This trailhead has awesome views of the Wenatchee River with alpine mountain views.  We stopped at the beach area for a couple of hours so the kids could play, then we walked along the trail for a bit, and crossed the Tumwater Canyon Bridge.  The views from the bridge are amazing and the sound of the roaring river is captivating. 

View of the Tumwater Canyon Bridge from the beach area.

Beach area of the Old Pipeline Bed Trail

Tumwater Canyon Bridge

View from the top of the Tumwater Canyon Bridge

As we headed towards our next base, the magical scenery of the cascade loop continued as we were driving through the curvy roads of Highway 2 from Leavenworth to Baring, transitioning from the Wenatchee National Forest to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  

Highway 2 going driving from Leavenworth to Baring, WA

The scenery is so nice, that it is too tempting not to stop at every single point of interest along the way.  We decided to keep going since it was getting late, however we couldn’t avoid the curiosity to stop at the Deception Falls past Steven’s Pass, prior to arriving at our cabin.  Now you might ask, are these falls really deceptive?  Ha! Read along!
Deceptive Falls, this is just the beginning.

The Deceptive Falls

In all honesty, there is nothing here to be deceived about, on the contrary!  After parking, and going into the trailhead, the scenery changes dramatically.  Entering the trail feels like stepping into a different planet as if you arrived to another civilization of living organisms.  The trees are covered in green moss from the base of the trunk to the tips of branches. The forest is dark and damp, yet the colors in the forest are brighter and greener. 

Point of interest at the Deceptive Falls Interpretive Trail

The Deception Creek

Walking along the Deceptive Trail, which is not deceptive at all.

The water along the creek is crystalline clear, and the waterfalls, although smaller in size, show the amazing power of nature.  As one walks along the trail, one can witness the merging powers of two great forces as the Deception Creek. This creek originates in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and abruptly merges with the Tye River after making a 90 degree turn.  This power junction is amazing, yet scary.  

90 degree junction of the Deception Creek
and the Tye River

Deception Creek going towards the Tye River

We highly recommend this place; it is a hidden treasure overlooked by many travelers.  The trail is misty, so be careful when walking (it can be a bit slippery).  The trail is a half mile loop, accessible for everyone, fairy tale style, and family friendly. 
After visiting the Deception Falls, we headed to our next base camp over the next 7 days.  The base camp was a 30-year-old cabin sitting on the edge of the Skykomish River in Baring, WA.  Every morning, we prepared coffee and breakfast, and ate outside in the patio to enjoy the views of the river, and the mountains with pine trees.  After breakfast, I prepared snacks and lunch to go for the family, and then we would head to a trail nearby.  It was nice and relaxing to come back to the cabin, wash off, rest for a bit, prepare and eat dinner, play board games, and sit together to enjoy the sunsets.  I mostly enjoyed tracking the sunrays moving across the mountain peaks as these softly caressed and highlighted the geological colors of the rock slabs.  

The view from our cabin

We also enjoyed singing; our daughter played the ukulele, our son the harmonica, and I played the guitar while my husband sang along.  We are not trying to put a family band together, although at times it felt like the hills were alive by adding the element of music to the whole scenery.  No, we are not the Von Trapp family from the Sound of Music!  We are the Martinez-Ruiz Family, a Mexican-American Family from Texas, Si Señor! 

Singing outside the cabin

During our stay in Baring, we visited two small charming railroad towns; Skykomish, and Index.  These towns have small grocery stores, but we mostly shopped at the Gold Bar Family Grocery store in the town of Gold Bar.  In one of our trips to buy groceries, we decided to stop at the Espresso Chalet to buy iced coffee, and espresso.  The place is located at Mile Post 36 in Index (WA) at the Bridal Veil Falls and Mt. Index overlook/viewpoint area.  To our surprise, we saw Big Foot at this location!  Well, not really, although this is one of the film locations of Harry and the Henderson’s movie.  The kids enjoyed taking a picture with Harry, a 14 ft wood carved figure of Big Foot.  In addition, the green shack was used as the outside set for the North American Museum of anthropology where Dr. Wallace was doing his research on Big Foot.  The coffee drinks were great, there are movie souvenirs, and you can sit and relax in the place to catch a picturesque view of the Bridal Veil Falls from afar.  

Patio Area of the Espresso Chalet

View of the Bridal Veil Falls from the Espresso Chalet Patio

One of the Film Locations of Harry and the Henderson's

Hanging out with Harry

We hiked a few trails in the area, however, our favorite trails came down to the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Barclay Lake Trail.  We did not have a chance to hike other trails along Highway 2, but this just gives us an excuse to come back.  

The Barclay Lake Trail is 4.3 miles and was an easy hike for the most part.  The trail is pretty continuous without major inclines (little elevation) and we were glad it was not steep like the Bridal Veil Falls trail.  This trail is kid friendly, compared to the Bridal Veil Falls trail, where people gave us some “weird” looks for taking the kids with us.  One lady said as she was coming back from the trail “it is pretty rough, are you sure you want to keep going?” In all honesty, we were not expecting the trail to be hard and steep on the last 1/3 of the path, but we made it and the kids felt a big sense of accomplishment when making it to the waterfalls, besides marveling at the views of the valley from the top, and the noisy drop of the waterfalls. Stay tuned for the next blog post about our encounter with a Black Bear at the Bridal Veil Falls trailhead! 

Back to the Barclay Lake trail, it features a small lake where swimming, fishing, and camping is possible. Getting to the trail is a bit confusing, since you have to drive through a narrow gravel road for about 15-20 minutes. The road has a few large potholes and sections of rocky outcroppings, so be careful when driving on this road.  The road is narrow, shaded, and beautiful, so for a moment we thought it was probably the trail, until we started to see other cars driving back. Once we made it to the parking lot, our hike was about 1.5 hours to the lake (we take our time when hiking).

Driving to the Barclay Lake Trail

Parking lot at the Barclay Lake Trail

We enjoyed the views of Barclay Lake, and ate lunch there before heading back to the parking lot. The trail is pretty shaded with trees, there is bridge that goes over a stream about 1/3 of the way, and then the trees start to get scarce as you begin to approach the lake.  We noticed the water levels were pretty low in the stream along the trail, and the lake due to the high heated summer.  Unfortunately this was a pretty common scene for the lakes and rivers in the Cascades area. 

Crossing the bridge, 1/3 of the way to Barclay Lake

Barclay Lake

Barclay Lake

Due to the high summer temperatures, we went to the town of Index a couple of times to the swimming area of the Skykomish river.  The public beach is next to the bridge, on the left side of the Index Historical Society building.  

Under the Index Bridge

Down at the River in Index, WA

Index is another hidden gem, known as the smallest town in the State of Washington, with the biggest views.  It is located in the foothills of Cascade Mountain range, and it is a destination for rock climbers due to the Index Town Walls (granite cliffs on the north edge of the town).  

The BNFS railroad runs through the middle of the town, and it was cool to see passenger and freight trains chug along from below the bridge. We also heard the train from our cabin during the day and sometimes at night, adding to the mining town ambiance and RSR. 

Passenger train going through Index

Leaving the beach area under the bridge

Index General Store

Index Train Bridge

Index Historical Museum

Index and the granite cliffs in the background

It was impossible to visit everything in 2 weeks, but we truly enjoyed the places we explored.  At the end of the trip, we made our last stop at Kirkland, WA to attend mass at the Holy Family Church, and to witness another sunset of the west coast before going back to Houston.  Kirkland is not part of the Cascades Scenic Route, but it is a suburb of Seattle that was on our path to the airport, and it has a small town feel with beautiful views.  After church, we walked along Lake Street and enjoyed the sunset behind the Marina Park Pavilion.  The Marina Park is great for families, with views of Lake Washington.  It is very nice to walk the streets of downtown Kirkland with the kids, where one can find coffee shops, boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.  There are more parks to enjoy as well, such as Heritage Park, where we walked the trails to end our trip in Washington.

Sunset at the Marina Park, Kirkland, WA

Marina Park, Kirkland, WA

Walking in downtown Kirkland

Sunset in Lake Washington, Kirkland

The South Cascades route is like a collection of movie scenes along the way, where you can find small charming towns, views of different mountain ranges, plenty of outdoor activities, and a better perspective of the history and the different cultures of the region that have evolved over the years. The scenic road is a path that invites you to disconnect from your world, to find other worlds to connect to: nature, different people, God, and yourself.  We found disconnecting from our environment helped us find our center again, we really needed an adjustment to our GPS in these difficult pandemic times, and a renewed sense of our place in this world.  We are so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to visit these lands of the West Coast. 



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