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.
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
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|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.
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|
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.
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|
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.
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.