Tumwater Pipeline Trail


Many people head to North Central Washington and the Cascade Mountains looking to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. One of the first ways to do this is to participate in some kind of outdoor recreation. If you’re driving through Tumwater Canyon, or if you’re staying in the area, you will have plenty of options and one of them is to take a hike down the Tumwater Pipeline Trail.


This trail became what it is starting way back in the early 1900s with the building of the Tumwater Dam and its powerhouse located two miles downstream. Water came from the dam through a pipeline over that distance and today a hiking trail runs along the same course that the pipeline itself once rested on. This trail is just over two miles round trip, but it treats you to amazing scenery, an up close look at the canyon and the Wenatchee River, and it also touches on the history of the area. There is very little elevation gain so it is also very family friendly, even if you’re traveling with young children.


When you get out of your vehicle in the parking lot, make a purposeful effort to look for signs of not just rock formations and natural beauty, but the unmistakable angular shape of old concrete foundations. Where your car is parked is right on top of what used to be the powerhouse for the dam just upstream from you. There were paddle wheels sticking out into the river and a brick building that was home to three generators.


As you head west around a metal gate you can enjoy some landscape that is typical of Tumwater Canyon, including a huge boulder. You’ll wind along a narrow path that wedges you between the Wenatchee River and US Highway 2 before you get to one of the key features of this trail, the bridge. This is no ordinary bridge. Remember the story about the pipeline that brought water from the Tumwater Dam two miles upstream? The bridge is actually the remains of the pipeline with the top half cut off and the bottom filled in to make a flat walking surface. What a clever way to make something obsolete continue to be used.


The trail leads on from there on the opposite side of the river from where the highway runs and takes you through rocky areas, tree covered areas, and even over a stream. You also get treated to a unique view of Castle Rock, an attraction in Tumwater Canyon that is popular with rock climbers. The trail eventually disappears into a large rock field and most people consider this the end. You can scramble across the rocks to see what you can find or you can return back to the trailhead from there. This is a quick and easy way to get out and enjoy the many sides of Tumwater Canyon.


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