Clara and Marion Lakes are isolated lakes located high above Mission Ridge in Wenatchee, Washington. Hiking Clara and Marion Lakes is a fantastic day outing with beautiful views and a well-maintained trail.
If you're looking for a relatively short and moderately difficult hike near Wenatchee, the 1.5-mile trek up to Clara Lake and Marion Lake may be just what you need! It starts at the parking lot just below Mission Ridge and takes you up 1,000 feet in elevation to these two, peaceful isolated lakes. The trail is popular with families, couples, and even mountain bikers! It's also common to see adventurous hikers trail running this hike as well.
Hiking to the lakes is not an easy task, but there are far harder hikes in the area to challenge yourself with. If you're looking for another great hike near Wenatchee check out our list of 10 Incredible Hikes Near Wenatchee. Some are family-friendly and others are pretty tough!
Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to hike to Clara Lake and then take the 0.3-mile trail up to Marion Lake.
Getting to the Trailhead
The trailhead is up Mission Ridge Road just below the parking area for the skiing. Use the map below to get directions:
Clara Lake and Marion Lake Trail Map
Here is a map with the important waypoints marked and the path highlighted.
There is plentiful parking at the Lake Clara Trailhead. It's located just down the road from the Mission Ridge ski area in a large, gravel lot. Throughout much of the year, you won't have a problem finding somewhere to park!
The parking lot is large, with enough space for at least 50 cars.
This trailhead sign is on the opposite side of the parking lot, just across the road. It marks the beginning of both the trail to Clara Lake and the merge between this trial and the Pipeline Trail (just over a 1/2 mile or so up the trail).
Hiking Lake Clara and Lake Marion
The trail to Clara Lake and Marion Lake begins on the far side of Mission Ridge Road and takes you up through moderately difficult for the first 2/3rds of the hike. From the start, you'll find yourself on a gently inclined trail that, in parts, becomes fairly steep.
The trail wastes no time gaining a bit of elevation. Make sure to wave goodbye to your car and happy legs (at least for a couple of hours!).
While the first part of the trail is less-than-thrilling, you'll have no lack of great opportunities to enjoy the beautiful plant life along either side of the path. The trail is well-maintained enough, though, to where it won't interfere with your hike! Unfortunately, there is no good place to look down at Mission Ridge or toward Wenatchee.
The path goes uphill pretty much the whole way to Clara Lake. A few sections are flatter and provide your legs some much-needed rest, but they aren't very long.
Luckily, most of the trail is not too steep, just relentlessly uphill. It shouldn't pose too much of a problem for anyone in decent shape!
About halfway through the hike, you'll cross a wide road. Make sure you head straight to the other side and continue on the regular trail. The road is part of another popular snowshoe path called the Pipeline Trail.
There will be a sign marking the direction you want to go at this point, so it's hard to get confused! From here, you still have just over 1/2 a mile to go until you reach Clara Lake.
The trail starts to level out as you get closer and closer to the lake; with a few bends and curves, you'll finally come over a crest and see the small lake in front of you. This area is incredibly peaceful and ideal for enjoying your lunch or a break before going to Marion Lake.
Make sure to take the path around the lake to the left if you want to go on to Marion Lake. Otherwise, there is a trail to the right that takes you up to a small campground with a fire pit. The trail also provides you with a few different vantage points to admire the lake.
Clara Lake lacks the brilliant blue color of the true alpine lakes around Leavenworth, but that doesn't make it any less worthy! It's unique in its own way and far less crowded than other aquamarine-colored lakes you might've hiked to.
Did You Know? The Devil's Spur Trailhead is just down the road.
Make sure to appreciate the small things around the trail! Like this little bridge, you cross to get to the campground. It's surrounded by slightly overgrown plants and wildflowers and is a perfectly beautiful and helpful addition to the lake.
The small campsite on the bank of Clara Lake, along with some beautiful wildflowers
On a summer day, the cool woods around Clara Lake are a wonderful spot to escape the valley's heat. If you're tired of the exposed, sunny hikes in the Wenatchee hills, you'll probably be in love with this trail by the time you're done with it.
When you're ready to keep moving, take the trail to the left around Clara Lake and above it. You'll need to keep going back deeper into the forest for another 0.3 miles until you see Marion Lake below you.
The path between the two lakes is easier than the hardest sections you've hiked so far. So don't worry, you'll be there before you know it. It should only take between 10 and 20 minutes to get to Marion Lake. Plus, there are some downhill sections to speed up your hike (but don't forget to prepare for them on the way back!).
You're going to pass what seems like it used to be a lake to your left before heading downhill to the true lake another 3 minutes down the trail.
Marion Lake is nothing to brag about, but it is another destination to tick off your list! There is little to explore around the lake, but it's another peaceful location far from the bustle of Mission Ridge.
Two views of Marion Lake at the end of the trail
Although there are no spectacular views along the hike, you will come across various plant life. Can you name any of the plants in our photos? Let us know in the comments!
As you backtrack towards Clara Lake, keep your eyes open and make sure you don't detour away from the main path. It's fairly easy to do as a few different options take you to viewpoints around Clara Lake.
From Clara Lake, continue down the path the same way you came up, taking your time and saving your knees, as there are a few fairly steep sections along the way.
You'll hear cars below going to and from Mission Ridge before you see the parking lot for the trail. But, the latter is visible through the trees when you're about five minutes from your car.
If you enjoyed this hike and have any beta or suggestions, let us know in the comments!
Is the hike to Clara Lake hard?
No, not compared to other hikes in the area. It's moderately difficult and will provide no real challenge to those used to hiking up longer and steeper trials around Wenatchee and Leavenworth. That being said, there are some sections that gain elevation fairly quickly. So, if you're looking for your first "moderate" hike, this could be a good option!
Where is Marion Lake?
Marion Lake is behind Clara Lake in Colokum Wildlife Area. It's only 0.3 miles from the banks of Clara Lake but isn't visible from the lake itself. You'll have to hike back into the woods a bit, along a well-maintained trail, to find it!
Are dogs allowed at Clara Lake?
Yes, the hike to Clara Lake is dog-friendly! But, it's the best policy to keep your pup on a leash the whole time.
Is a permit required for Clara Lake?
No, there is no permit required to park at the trailhead, nor is there a permit required to hike up to the lake.