Monday, July 22, 2013

Trip Report: Car Camping at Salmon La Sac Campground, Wenatchee National Forest, WA

It's nice to be able to report that I haven't been keeping up with the blog the last few weekends because I've had time to get outside. This post will be a short trip report on a recent car camping trip at Salmon La Sac Campground, a USFS campground in Wenatchee National Forest, which sits right at the confluence of the Cooper and the Cle Elum rivers in the upper Cle Elum River Valley
Source: CalTopo.com
This is a beautiful area on the eastern slope of the central Cascades, and just outside the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Because the campground is in a National Forest, rather than a National Park, there are plenty opportunities for a full range outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, target shooting, river floating, and more. Salmon La Sac is one of several forest service campgrounds in the valley. I like Salmon La Sac because it sits between two rivers, and because it is the furthest campground upstream which still has potable water. Many of the sites at Salmon La Sac are riverfront, and the double-size sites offer lots of distance between you and your neighbors. 
Double-site at Salmon La Sac
The campground was quiet and mostly mosquito free, which was great. The fishing at the campground was marginal while we were there, with water in the tributaries drying up, but the mainstem Cle Elum still running too fast and deep for my little ultralight spinning combo. A few locals mentioned either heading up-valley to Fish Lake (aka Tucquala Lake) or downstream to Lake Cle Elum might prove more fruitful. Since I was the only one fishing in our party, I just contented myself with walking up and down the banks of the streams near the campground and occasionally throwing a line. 

Plenty of well-developed forest service roads providing even more camping for those who prefer dispersed camping. Those roads also lead to a number of trailheads offering great dayhikes. Pete Lake is a short 4 miles, and lies just inside the Alpine Lake Wilderness boundary. Mosquitoes were out during the mostly-forested hike to the Lake, but gave way to flies once we reached the lake. It was crowded with dayhikers and a some families on short overnights, but the views were spectacular. I saw a few fish jump on the lake, but didn't have time to walk around to the opposite shore where it looked like the fishing might be better. It would make a great overnight for some high lake trout fishing. 

Local Residents
In all, this area makes an excellent car camping location, offering everything from lazy river floats to strenuous hikes into wilderness. It isn't much of a secret though, as Saturday was busy in the valley and campgrounds and dispersed sites all looked full. If you can miss the weekend crowd, there's potential for some solitude even at the car campgrounds. It seemed 80% of campers headed home on Sunday, so we had a very quiet evening and relaxing breakfast on Monday before heading home. 

If you're looking for an easy summer weekend trip, definitely check out this area. And if you remember the show Northern Exposure, check out the town of Roslyn, where the show was filmed, and which you'll pass through on your way up. 

Cheers. 

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