Cashmere, 2.5 hours from Seattle | Picnic Tables, Primitive Trails
I’ve braved the steeps of climber access trails before, but as I clung to the hillside above Highway 2 west of Wenatchee, I marveled that the Peshastin Pinnacle trails are literally a step above. The footpaths that wind around the rocky monuments are made by climbers eager to get vertical, so they’re nowhere as gentle as real hiking routes. I dug my sneakers into soft dirt, hands smeared on the rocky outcroppings to ascend—even when you’re not rock climbing, gravity is the boss at the Pinnacles.
These sandstone formations, sandwiched by fruit orchards and a draw for midcentury climbers, were once privately owned. The lumps of rock earned names like Martian Tower and Donald Duck Rock, but in 1978 a crooked spire called the Trigger Finger snapped at its rocky knuckle. Fearful of liability, landowners closed access in 1986, and it was off-limits until the state purchased the land several years later.
The climbers who tackle the sandstone and mixed rock brave aging bolts driven into the rock and notoriously crumbly crags, all under intense sun. Even empty of cliff clingers, though, the pinnacles are a remarkable sight. Head west (left as you face the hillside) on the trail for the most solid footpath through the dramatic landscape. But when it starts to get really steep, leave it to the daredevils with ropes.