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Imus Creek Trail

Central Cascades > Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan
47.3865, -121.3848
0.7 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain
150 feet
Highest Point
1,340 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
A nice view of McGregor Mountain from the Imus Creek Trail. Photo by Shannon Leader. Full-size image
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Good for kids
  • Fall foliage
  • Waterfalls

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Saved to My Backpack

If you only have a short time to hike while visiting the secluded town of Stehekin, hop on the Imus Creek Trail to sample what the North Cascades National Park has to offer. This easy self-guided nature walk runs behind the landing for a one mile loop to an overlook of the lake and the majestic mountains that make up the Lake Chelan Valley. Continue reading

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Hiking Imus Creek Trail

If you are planning on visiting the idyllic town of Stehekin for the day and wonder if you have time for a hike while waiting for the boat to take you back down the lake, the Imus Creek Trail that runs behind the landing is the perfect choice for sampling the terrain of the North Cascades National Park. You can start either by the Golden West Visitor Center or by Purple Point Campground but starting by the visitor center allows you to stop in for current conditions and a map.

From the landing, wander around to the back of the national park visitor center and follow the service road, looking ahead for a weathered wooden sign marked for Purple and Imus Trails.  The Imus Creek Trail is a self-guided nature walk, look for a informational booklet you can borrow in the box on top of the sign and drop off at the other side.

Here the wide trail makes its way past rugged ponderosa pines and gentle vine maple as it gains 140 feet of elevation. A cement water storage tank covered with a coat of brown moss is nestled on the right and you will soon cross a small wooden bridge over Purple Creek tucked away beneath viridescent saplings of birch and maple.  From here the trail narrows, climbing another 20 feet gently to a junction with the trail to Purple Pass at the high point of the trail at 1340 feet and about a quarter mile into your stroll.

Continue past the junction as the trail follows the contoured slope decorated with Cascade Oregon Grape and sword ferns gently down to a viewpoint on a rock outcropping in .2 miles.  A perfect wooden bench is placed to take in the surrounding summits of Castle Rock and Tupshin Peak to the left and MacGregor and Rainbow Mountain to your right. From this vantage point it is easy to see why this valley was named Stehekin, meaning “the way through”, by the indigenous people who used Lake Chelan to travel south from Cascade Pass.

From your perch you can still hear the muted laughter of visitors relaxing on the deck chairs at the lodge and locals picking up their packages off the ferry but keep an ear open for the rustle of forest grouse resting in the pines nearby or crickets in the dry grass at your feet.

Enjoy a tranquil moment with the regal views and then saunter back up onto the trail and continue gradually downhill. In .1 of a mile you cross a new sturdy bridge over Imus Creek, the old one washed away in significant flooding that occurred in the area in 2013.  Water cascades down over rugged layers of rock speckled with bright green moss. Large maple leaves forming a low canopy over the littered boulders line the sheltered drainage.

From here, the trail descends through thimbleberry over rocks and crisp fallen leaves to loop behind and to the right of the Purple Point Campground. You will find yourself shortly at the main road through town making the total trail distance just shy of .7 miles.  Turning left, the road will take you back to the landing in a little over a quarter mile for a final trip length of one mile. You will have plenty of time to enjoy lunch on the deck in town or have an al fresco meal with what you have carried in your pack at one of the three lakeside picnic areas you will pass on your return.  Either way, savor what remains of your time before reluctantly taking your seat on the boat headed back down the lake, already making plans for your next visit to explore more of the secluded paradise that is Stehekin.

Hike Description Written by
Shannon Leader, WTA Correspondent

Imus Creek Trail

Map & Directions

Before You Go

A $26 backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex (incl. Ross Lake National Rec Area and Lake Chelan National Rec Area). Permits must be picked up in person at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount. See the National Park Service website for more information.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Once arriving in Stehekin either by boat, plane or on foot, the trailhead can be found behind the Golden West Visitor's Center on the south side of town. There are bathrooms available at both the national park visitor's center and the Purple Point Campground.

More Hike Details


Central Cascades > Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan

North Cascades National Park

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Stehekin No 82

Buy the Green Trails Stehekin No. 82 map

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Imus Creek Trail

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