The 2.4-mile Tumwater Pipeline Trail is a lovely way to see the Wenatchee River along a mostly flat river-side trail. It's suitable for hikers of all ages and is rated as easy!
The Tumwater Pipeline Trail, part of the Tumwater Penstock Trail in the Wenatchee National Forest, is popular with families and those hoping to spend a warm day by the river. The trail runs along the Wenatchee River and is suitable for swimming in the summer but only if you're a strong swimmer! When the water is high, the current can be incredibly strong and has been known to sweep swimmers downstream.
The colors in fall also still make it a spectacular choice when the water is far too cold! We highly recommend packing a lunch or some snacks and when you see a section of beach you like, stopping there to take in the beautiful views.
Along the way, you'll also get fantastic views of Castle Rock, a nearby rock formation on the other side of the highway that is popular with rock climbers.
Directions to Tumwater Pipeline Trail
Navigate to the Tumwater Pipeline Trail:
Tumwater Pipeline Trail Map
Use the map of the Tumwater Pipeline Trail below.
Leavenworth, Washington Sticker
Tumwater Pipeline Trail Stats
The gorgeous, easy-to-navigate Tumwater Pipeline Trail is only 5 minutes from Bavarian Leavenworth down Tumwater Canyon. The trail is 2.4 miles long and should take you about an hour to finish. That is if you don't spend any time enjoying the several beautiful beaches along the river.
What You Should Know
The trail is kid-friendly.
Dogs are allowed on the Tumwater Pipeline Trail but must be on a leash.
It is an out-and-back trail, meaning that you'll need to turn around and come back the same way.
It's an easy trail that does not require navigating any steep hills. But, there are a few sections with some rocks you can walk around or through.
As the trail progresses, it does eventually become somewhat more difficult towards the end.
There are no permits required.
You can enjoy the trail year-round. It's suitable for snowshoeing as well!
The Tumwater Pipeline
Reading up on a little history of the area makes this hike all the more interesting! The trail runs along an old pipeline previously used by the Great Northern Railway (around the time of the development of Stevens' Pass) to hold a pipeline in the early 1900s.
This pipeline carried water from the Wenatchee River to a power plant for electric train engines. Electric engines were still somewhat of a novelty at the time. But, they became a critical part of the railroad's history after the company and travelers learned firsthand that steam engines and tunnels were a fatal combination. There were more than a few deaths and accidents during this period in the Great Nothern's Life, and electric engines became crucial for pulling trains through tunnels.
Hiking the Tumwater Pipeline Trail
The Tumwater Pipeline Trail begins at a large trailhead about 2.5 miles from Leavenworth. It's known as the Old Pipeline Bed Trailhead and has room for plenty of cars. There is also a bathroom there. The trailhead is down a short gravel road and has two separate spots for parking.
From here, walk behind the Road Closed sign and through the trees till you see the Tumwater Canyon Bridge, a red, iron bridge that you'll use to get to the other side of the river and get some distance from the highway. If it has rained recently, it's smart to keep an eye on how much water is on the bridge. It may be slippery.
Did you know? The bridge was originally built to hold the pipeline that used to cross the river. It was abandoned after the railroad converted to diesel engines.
After crossing the bridge, make sure to enjoy a small viewpoint on the right side of the trail; it provides fantastic views up the Wenatchee River. Around you are cottonwoods and pines, as well as much of the wildlife of Washington's forests.
The trail curves slightly and makes its way north along the east side f the river. As you walk, you'll come upon several beaches, many of which are well-suited to picnics throughout the year. One of the largest is the Old Pipeline Bed Beach.
Did you know? This area is a popular climbing destination. You might even see climbers walking around with crashpads on their back or clambering on rocks in the river.
You can walk along the trail for as long as you want to, but most people choose to turn around after about a mile. It does start to gain more elevation and become rockier at the end.
Castle Rock from the Tumwater Pipeline Trail
Near the trail's end, you'll get a fantastic look at Castle Rock, a popular destination with rock climbers. If you look closely, you might even see one or two people scrambling up it. Don't get this Castle Rock confused with the equally impressive Wenatchee Castle Rock Trail.
Where is the Tumwater Pipeline Trail?
It is 2.5 miles into Tumwater Canyon, along Highway 2, only five minutes from Leavenworth, Washington. It's around 30 minutes from Wenatchee. The trail is easy to access from the large gravel parking lot.
Is the Tumwater Pipeline Trail easy?
Yes, this is a very easy and quick trail perfect for families or anyone looking for a peaceful walk along the river. It's 2.4 miles long in total (but you don't have to go the whole way) and gains little elevation.
Do I need a permit for the Tumwater Pipeline Trail?
No, you don't need a permit to park at the trailhead for the Tumwater Pipeline Trail. You can park there for free throughout the year, but there is no overnight camping in the lot!