6.8 miles
1640 feet

dogs on leash


mountain biking

trail running

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

BLUF(Bottom Line Up Front): Absolutely the perfect hiking venue for those wanting to optimize mileage vs reward, offering expansive views of Leavenworth and the Enchantments the whole way up. Hikers beware, the signage is poor so plan your route ahead of time.

The family and I (myself, wife, and two dogs) set out from the Ski Hill trailhead about 1130 on Monday, April 2nd. When we first arrived, we were startled to find a no dogs sign posted. After talking to a couple locals, that is only for the winter months. For spring and summer hiking, it is very dog friendly.

Being located so close to town, we assumed it would be very busy but were pleasantly surprised at how few people we saw there. That being said, I would largely attribute that to it being a Monday and early enough in the season that the higher trails weren't on many peoples' radars yet. The trails were mostly snow free until we got about 2.5 miles up near the top, where we encountered a number of small snow fields. They were easily passible with boots, no yak tracks required. Also impassible by mountain bikes, adding to our seclusion.

For those new to the area, like myself, Ski Hill is a multi-use trail complex with a spiderweb of trails. We began by taking the New Lodge Connector in and to the right until it met up with the 4 the Boys trail. Both of these trails are very well built and maintained and offer views of Leavenworth and the Enchantments. We then joined up with the Rosy Boa trail and followed this for the next couple miles. It was on the later portions of the Rosy Boa that we encountered snow fields. One critique I have is that the trail junctions are very poorly marked. There are a couple signs, which we were lucky to have stumbled upon and taken a picture of early on, but do not expect this throughout your adventure.

We then ate lunch at the Rosy Boa and Ski Hill trail junction (there is no sign, this occured by happenstance). Wanting to make a loop back to the trailhead we opted to take Ski Hill back down which was advertised on the trail map as being completed in Summer 2016. As we progressed down Ski Hill, it became abundently clear that the trail was not completed. Eventually, our leisurely hike turned into a walk in the woods trying to spot the next ribbon tied to a branch. Finally, the ribbons went straight down a very very steep hill. If you are not comfortable with exposure very steep grades, and route finding, I would advise you not go this way. The Ski Hill trail on the map showed that this would instead be a series of switchbacks. It may be in the future but it was not today. After an arduous half mile or so of down climbing and side hilling, we stumbled upon the end of the developed trail.

Once on the developed trail, it was smooth sailing to the bottom of Ski Hill. This trail from the base up is a series of expertly built switchbacks. It just does not go to the top and loop around as is advertised on the trail map.

All in all, I would highly recommended hiking at the Ski Hill complex and we will definitely be going again. I would recommend planning your route ahead of time and recording your hike with AllTrails as you go.