Map Quest

A Fall Color Road Trip through Central Washington

A road trip to Wenatchee heads past iconic larch trees to rich fruit orchards.

By Allison Williams October 21, 2022 Published in the Fall 2022 issue of Seattle Met

Image: Levi Hastings

1. March through the Larches

The ephemeral alpine larch hides at high elevations, usually demanding arduous hikes into the mountains to catch its autumn turn to oranges and yellows. But the Swauk Forest Discovery Trail on the crest of Blewett Pass winds less than three miles through the eastern side of the Cascades, dotted with interpretive signs that illuminate the area’s wildlife and history. Most crucially, it passes larch trees; their needles pale from green to light yellow in late September, finally turning a brilliant orange before fall winds blow them off. 

2. Reach the Pinnacle

Climbers flock to the sandstone towers of Peshastin Pinnacles State Park for the challenge of a notorious crag, its steep sides buttoned with aging bolts meant to hold lifesaving ropes. A pocket state park at only 34 acres, Pinnacles features trails with singular purpose, thin footpaths rising quickly to the bottom of each climbing crag. From where the rocky spires jut skyward from dusty earth, views of fruit orchards stretch in every direction, heaving with the season’s apples and pears. 

3. Meet the Meat

A brass pig squats at the corner of Aplets Way and Pleasant Avenue, guarding a red barn-shaped restaurant with a contented smile. Behind him Country Boys BBQ dishes chopped beef brisket or pulled pork doused in sauce, a soft bun speckled with onions barely containing the handful of meat. Baby back ribs often sell out before close; customers carry baskets lined with classic red-and-white checked paper and laden with meat to the patio overlooking small-town Cashmere. With notably sizable portions, most leave with the same sleepy grin as the pig.

4. Make a Toast to the Riverfront

Wenatchee’s Pybus Public Market was built on tough stuff, specifically steel produced by an enterprising blacksmith who set up a warehouse and metal fabrication shop on the Columbia River. The vacant building was reborn as a home for artisans and food purveyors in 2013, erecting a red Pike Place–like “Public Market” sign.  Lake City’s Hellbent Brewing opened a taproom late last year, pouring beers named for a junkyard cat and the elusive Seattle sunshine. Then this summer, Off the Hill tasting room brought the market small-batch wines and ciders that salute the fruit grown on the sloping hills around Wenatchee.

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