Penstock/Tumwater Pipeline

This short trail outside Leavenworth, WA, follows an old pipeline that in the early 1900s carried water from the Tumwater dam through a tunnel and alongside the Wenatchee River through the Tumwater Canyon to a powerhouse near today’s trailhead. The electricity generated there was needed to power a Great Northern Railway train through a Cascade Mountains tunnel (couldn’t use coal-powered trains because the smoke was deadly inside the tunnel).

Location Elsewhere
Rating 2.6 out of 5
Difficulty Easy (entrance to tunnel is a scramble)
Distance 2.8 miles
Duration 1:18 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 193 feet
High Point 1,459 feet (Tunnel)
Low Point 1,253 feet (Trailhead)
Trail Type Out-and-back
Trailbed Packed dirt
Trail# 706
Water Wenatchee River
Status National Register of Historic Places
Administration Wenatchee National Forest
Conditions Excellent
Permits None required
Camping Not available
Maps USGS Leavenworth
Trailhead From Leavenworth (Icicle Road), head west on US-2 for about 1.7 miles. The trailhead will be on your left, a gravel road leading down to the river (it is not signed). There is parking for a dozen cars and a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Google Directions (47.587183, -120.707433)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Naughty was not invited along, but would have loved it!
Features Riverwalk, Structure
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 228.3 miles
  • Lewiston 252.8 miles
  • Sandpoint 267.3 miles
  • Seattle 117.4 miles
  • Spokane 195.7 miles
Resources
Date September 17, 2017

Pipeline bridge across the Wenatchee RiverThe trail starts out on the east side of the Wenatchee River, but almost immediately crosses the river using the old steel pipeline bridge, which provides good views up- and down-river. The trail then parallels the river through a mixed coniferous and deciduous forest for a bit over a mile, using the bed of the old pipeline for much of the way. Along the way you’ll come across signs of beaver activity, picturesque sandy beaches, shoals of salmon resting on the downstream side of boulders,  popular Castle Rock–studded with climbers–on the far side of the river, and evidence of the old pipeline itself (spikes and rock walls). The trail ends at a tunnel obscured by a rock slide.

A narrower single-track continues on northwards, but soon deteriorates to little more than a game trail.

Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

Wenatchee River at the trailhead
Wenatchee River at the trailhead
Pipeline bridge across the Wenatchee River
Pipeline bridge across the Wenatchee River
The bottom half of the pipeline serves as the trail across the bridge
The bottom half of the pipeline serves as the trail across the bridge
Wenatchee River, taken from the bridge
Wenatchee River, taken from the bridge
The Wenatchee can be fierce during spring runoff
The Wenatchee can be fierce during spring runoff
For the most part, the trail is a wide singletrack occupying the old pipeline bed
For the most part, the trail is a wide singletrack occupying the old pipeline bed
Rapids in Wenatchee River
Rapids in Wenatchee River
Pipline spikes poking up through the trailbed
Pipline spikes poking up through the trailbed
Highway 2 is just across the river; youll probably hear it frequently
Highway 2 is just across the river; you’ll probably hear it frequently
Beaver work
Beaver work
A sandy beach on the river. Do NOT swim due to swift currents
A sandy beach on the river. Do NOT swim due to swift currents
Salmon
Salmon
Boulder wall along the trail dating back to the pipeline days
Boulder wall along the trail dating back to the pipeline days
Castle Rock (on the other side of the river)
Castle Rock (on the other side of the river)
Penstock pipeline tunnel
Penstock pipeline tunnel
View from inside the tunnel
View from inside the tunnel
The tunnel is partially blocked by a rock slide
The tunnel is partially blocked by a rock slide
Past the tunnel the trail deteriorates to a narrow singletrack….
Past the tunnel the trail deteriorates to a narrow singletrack….
…and then just a game trail
…and then just a game trail
Trailmap

© 2016 – 2017 NaughtyHiker. All rights reserved. No duplication without permission.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. montucky says:

    Pretty scenery. That should be popular with history buffs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. naughtyhiker says:

      Yes, and exploring the tunnel could be fun too. It’s probably no more than half a mile long

      Liked by 1 person

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