The beauty of Burch Mountain
By Amber King
In the foothills that surround Wenatchee lay interesting and impeccable trails with superior trail running opportunities. Exploring new trails and seeing new places has always been a great personal pastime. Earlier this month, while exploring Burch Mountain north of Wenatchee, we were surprised at we found at the end of a yellow dirt road.
Would you like to run a dirt road with a runnable uphill grade, eight miles in length, and offering some of the best views in the area? Yes, please! From the top of Burch Mountain, you can see all of Wenatchee, Quincy, the Enchantments, the North Cascades, Mount Rainier, and even Mount Baker. Not only that, but you get a sneak peek into the canyons of the Entiat Valley and the Cashmere area.
Since moving here, I have heard from locals about Burch Mountain, and how nice it is. “It’s that big hill just over there” they have all said — pointing up towards one of the many peaks set between Entiat and Cashmere. I would look up there and think ‘yeah, that’s great and all – but I’m not really inspired.’ With so many mountains and glacial lakes around, I sort of just pushed Burch Mountain to the back burner, though my curiosity stayed intact.
My friend, Amy Kerker, called me and said she wanted to go trail running. I was pretty excited to get out, since it had been about a week since I ran in the hills. I asked her what she had in mind, and she brought up Burch Mountain. Neither of us had been up there, and we were both interested in checking it out. We looked up some of the running beta, met at a carpool lot, and jumped into my Honda Element — giggling with excitement because we were, once again, exploring a new area.
While we climbed the double-track dirt road, Wenatchee slowly began to drop away. Higher and higher we went — moving from deserty, sagebrush hillsides to Ponderosa pine forests. The road began to flatten out as we climbed into the trees. We had driven about 5 miles, uphill the whole time. We could have stopped here to park, but we opted to keep going. About another mile up, we pulled over into a large pull out and got our things together. It had taken us about half hour to get up there in total. Once we geared up, we began our run up the dirt jeep roads, and higher into the trees.
Looking around us, we saw towering pine, covered in neon green ‘old man’s beard’. The underbrush was colorful, too — purple, green, yellow, orange. A perfect accessory to the areas it occupied.
We came to a Y in the road after a mile. Here we made a right and continued up through the forests. As we climbed for about another mile, the trees began to thin out and expose some fantastic views of the Enchantments and the Cashmere Valley. We — of course! — stopped to take some photos.
Not only were the views amazing, but the fields of sage and underbrush complemented these impressive mountains by serving as a border and frame. The colors of the vegetation, tall pines, and blue skies made us stop in our tracks, and stand in awe of the beauty around us. This thought immediately came to mind: “Why don’t more people come up here? This is probably the best place to watch the sunrise and sunset in the whole area!”
As we continued on we noticed that the views just got better. After a little while, we saw Mount Rainier to the west. After another half-mile or so, Mount Baker made itself apparent northwest of us. By this time, the road began to straddle two steep hillsides, making this ridge run even more scenic then we had ever dreamed. Stopping constantly to ‘ooo’ and ‘aah’, our trail run slowly turned into a fast hike — typical of these types of adventures.
When we finally got to the summit of Burch Mountain, we were able to see everything surrounding the town of Wenatchee, including the desert plains to the south and southeast. We were both truly blown away by amount of exposure and scenery that we were able to see in just a short trip out of town. Looking to Leavenworth, we could even see a plume of smoke rising as a result of a new wildfire in the area.
After taking some victory shots, and some funny selfies, we decided that it was time to go back. The way up had been a gentle uphill run the entire way. We were both excited to run fast on the downhill. As an additional plus, since the dirt road isn’t very technical, we could just look at the scenery the whole way back too.
Getting down took us about 45 minutes. Once we got to the car, we did a little stretching, reflected on what we had learned about the area, and jumped in the car. The whole way back, we couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was on the top of Burch Mountain.
The trail running opportunities in and around the Wenatchee Valley never ceases to amaze me. This one truly blew my socks off as it is so close to town, sits at a high elevation (cooler), and offers amazing views comparable to ones at the top of Aasgard Pass in Leavenworth (minus the lakes). So beautiful, and so close to home.
Try it this weekend!
Burch Mountain information
Trail name: Burch Mountain Trail
Mileage: 8 miles
Elevation gain: 750 feet
Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
Pros: Sweeping views of the area, ridge running, treed, beautiful moss covered Ponderosa pines
Cons: ATV traffic, hunters, dusty and hot in the summer, no water resources
Additional information: Road has been re-graded, and can be driven all the way with a small vehicle.
Additional resources: http://www.justgetout.net/Wenatchee/14497
1. From the intersection of Highway 97 and Easy Street, follow Easy Street up for 0.2 miles.
2. Turn right on Peters Road
3. After 50 yards, turn left onto Burch Mountain Road
4. Drive until the pavement ends. Set the odometer.
5. Drive for 5 miles and you will see a campsite and pull-off.
6. Continue for another mile until you see a big pull-off on the right. Park here.