Stretch your legs and see the flip side of Leavenworth
See the non-Bavarian side of this mock-Bavarian village on an afternoon of mountain biking around town.
Northwest Weekend editor
So, you love sauerbraten, shopping and alphorns? Leavenworth is for you.
Or, you love mountain biking, mountain streams and fresh air? Leavenworth can be for you, too.
On our recent visit, while my wife shopped away the afternoon, I set out to find non-Bavarian diversions in this town that has obsessed since the 1960s with remaking itself as a Bavarian village.
My finds included:
Waterfront Park and Blackbird Island. This 40 acres of parkland, on the Wenatchee River directly behind the town center, often goes undiscovered. It includes a couple miles of paths and footbridges — suitable for walking, biking or cross-country skiing — along sandy, wooded riverfront, with interpretive panels about local history, flora and fauna. Besides lovely views of mountains and river, this time of year see spawning salmon (with fins sticking from the shallows like sharks). Deer and even bears are known to wander here. From Highway 2, take Ninth Street through town to its end, turn left onto the gravel road and continue downhill to the parking area.
Barn Beach Reserve. A landmark century-old home, built by a local lumber baron and formerly a bed-and-breakfast, is the centerpiece of this 5.5-acre riverfront property. Since 2007, it has been home to a nature center, history museum and a local arts guild (with a small gallery). The amazing river-rock fireplace, two years in the building by an English stonemason, is by itself worth a gander. 347 Division St., www.barnbeachreserve.org.
Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. Stretch your legs with a ride down Icicle Road to the fish hatchery, 3 miles from the town center. Spring chinook salmon are the primary fish here, and spawning ends in August, but this time of year you can see eggs hatching in the visitor center (8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, www.fws.gov/leavenworth). It's also prime time for a walk on the hatchery's 1-mile loop nature trail along Icicle Creek (complete with viewing blinds). Along with Waterfront Park, this is a popular site on Audubon Washington's Great Washington State Birding Trail (wa.audubon.org/birds_GreatWABirdingTrail.html). Guided snowshoe tours offered in winter.
Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat, another .3-mile down Icicle Road, is a good turnaround point. Get coffee or a sandwich at O'Grady's Pantry (www.sleepinglady.com), offering outdoor tables with views of golden aspens.