Wild Logo v4

9 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth has an excellent mix of lakes. There are quiet fishing lakes, large reservoirs with fantastic boating, and of course, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness with its hidden gems.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Leavenworth Washington

Leavenworth is a gorgeous destination that attracts tourists with its Bavarian charm. Yet, it’s also an excellent getaway to some of the most fascinating lakes in Washington.

The options are diverse and plentiful here. For example, Fish Lake, as the name suggests, is a renowned fishing spot with a year-round season. And Lake Chelan – the largest and wildest lake in the state – is only an hour away. 

Moreover, a selection of stunning mountain lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness is just a stone’s throw away from the town.

Check out Leavenworth’s options.

Best Lakes near Leavenworth Washington Comparison Table

1. Lake Wenatchee

Lake Wenatchee near Leavenworth Washington
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Lake Wenatchee
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 20 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Kitesurfing, Windsurfing, Tubing, Hiking, Camping

Lake Wenatchee is a 2,427-acre mountain lake north of Leavenworth. It’s an easily-accessible and highly-rated destination that offers tons of activities any time of the year.

What’s great about this lake is that it’s managed by Lake Wenatchee State Park, which offers campgrounds, swimming areas, and a boat launch. 

The park is a hive of activity in summer, with kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming in full swing. And with the first snow, it turns into a winter wonderland with miles of snowshoeing and cross-country tracks. This is where you can try snow camping, too.

Lake Wenatchee can be windy, making it popular with kite and wind surfers. Yet, the water is nippy even at the end of summer, so bring a wetsuit if you plan to do water sports.

What’s more, the surrounding mountains are incredible and offer dozens of hiking routes. For example, the Dirtyface Peak Trail is a challenging 8.5-mile climb with stunning lake views. But you can also take a 2-mile stroll to Hidden Lake nearby – a small but charming spot nestled by the dense pine forest.

Regarding fishing, Lake Wenatchee isn’t managed by WDFW and is largely left alone. Hence, fishing here is slow compared to well-stocked lakes. The most popular specie is sockeye salmon which comes in a decent size. Also, you can aim for largemouth bass, lake whitefish, and various trout.

Overall, it’s an excellent lake for renting an RV and camping with family and friends.

Related: 15 Fun Recreational Lakes near Seattle, WA

2. Fish Lake

Ice fishing on a lake during sunset
Source: pexels
  • Official Page: Fish Lake
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 21 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping

Fish Lake is 492 acres in size and sits right next to Lake Wenatchee. As the name suggests, it’s a well-known fishing spot with some of the best reviews in the state.

The only way to access the lake is through the Cove Resort, located on the southern shore. It offers a fishing pier, boat rentals, a store, and a campground – everything you may need on a fishing expedition.

WDFW generously stocks the lake with thousands of rainbow trout every year. In spring and fall, most anglers target trout. In summer, it’s largemouth and smallmouth bass time. And in winter, the lake offers fantastic ice-fishing, with perch frenzy running for months.

Yet, it’s not all fishing here. Fish Lake is an excellent spot for kayaking and paddleboarding, too. And because it’s a fishing lake, there are no water sports like skiing or wakeboarding, so it’s a peaceful place to explore.

Moreover, the area’s campground and countless hiking routes make it a rather versatile destination.

The only drawback here is that, like Lake Wenatchee, it gets rather windy sometimes. Check the current conditions on this webcam before setting off.

Related: 13 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Olympia, WA

3. Jolanda Lake

  • Official Page: (none)
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 5 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Kayaking, Canoeing

Jolanda Lake is a patch of flat water on the otherwise turbulent Wenatchee River. Although not a typical recreational spot, the lake is a stunning site in Tumwater Canyon and can be a nice pitstop when traveling on US-2.

If you decide to stop by, there is a pullout by the Tumwater Dam. The steps will take you down to a small viewpoint where you can see the beautiful spillway.

Another place to stop is the famous Alps Candy Store, just a minute further upstream. 

The Wenatchee River is a popular whitewater destination, and there is a spot just before the spillway where kayakers usually get out. This is where you can put in for a paddle on the lake. The dam is a significant danger for kayakers, so this destination isn’t for beginners.

Also, the bad news is that Jolanda Lake is closed for fishing. You can find it on the list here.

4. Lake Entiat

Turtle Rock Island on Lake Entiat Columbia River Washington
Source: wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Official Page: Lake Entiat
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 26 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Windsurfing, Hiking, Camping

Lake Entiat is an 8,829-acre impoundment of the Columbia River. It’s an easily-accessible lake destination and a boating playground like no other. The best way to experience this reservoir is to rent an RV and check out its multiple parks.

The nearest spot to Leavenworth is Lincoln Rock State Park on the lake’s eastern shore. It has campgrounds, RV sites, boat launches, a swimming area, and sports fields. And another prominent spot is Daroga State Park on Route 97. It has more of the same, but a touch further away.

One of the coolest day-long adventures you can do at Lincoln Rock is to climb Turtle Rock – the island that’s only accessible by boat. It offers spectacular views of the river canyon in both directions.

Another mini-adventure is Rocky Reach Trail which starts at Lincoln Rock State Park. It’s a 5-mile paved route past the dam and down to the Sunnyslope. You can hike, bike, or skate it and enjoy the river vistas along the way.

With no recreational restrictions and incredible views, Lake Entiat is a fantastic destination that will suit anyone, from families to seasoned explorers.

Related: 15 Fun Recreational Lakes near Seattle, WA

5. Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan in Washington
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Lake Chelan
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 52 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Camping

Lake Chelan is the best-known lake in Washington for many reasons. At 32,623 acres, it’s the largest natural lake in the state. It’s also the 3rd deepest in the country after Crater Lake and Lake Tahoe. But most importantly, it’s an incredible recreational spot with hardly any recreational restrictions and breathtaking views.

Lake Chelan is a narrow and elongated reservoir that can be split into two parts. The southern part is well-developed and urbanized. This is where you can find marinas, resorts, and restaurants, all spread around the town of Chelan.

However, the further north you go, the more wild and remote the lake becomes. Yet, at the northernmost tip lays Stehekin – an incredible town cut off from civilization and with no road access. It’s the last outpost before the North Cascades begin.

For the most part, the reservoir is managed by Lake Chelan National Recreational Area, which offers advice and support to the visitors, runs ranger-led tours, and maintains the few campgrounds that the lake has. This is the best resource when planning a trip here.

Fishing deserves a special mention, too. The lake is a state record holder for lake trout (35.6 pounds) and a well-known spot for kokanee, chinook salmon, and cutthroat trout. It offers an incredible fishing experience with a great diversity of species.

Yet, the best thing about this destination is that it can offer any type of vacation you want. It can be a hotel experience with an aquapark, a boating adventure with boat-in campsites, or a backpacking expedition to the wilderness. The choice is yours.

Related: 13 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Olympia, WA

6. Colchuck Lake

Colchuck Lake in Alpine Lakes Wilderness near Leavenworth Washington
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Colchuck Lake
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 13 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, Backpacking

Colchuck Lake is a stunning mountain lake in the Alpine Lake Wilderness. Like all lakes in the wilderness, it requires hiking to get to, so this is not a typical recreational spot.

Of all the waterholes in Alpine Lake Wilderness, Colchuck Lake is the most popular one. It’s the right of passage and a must-visit destination for outdoor lovers.

The 5-mile trail to the lake is steep, rugged, and poorly marked. Despite this, thousands of hikers and backpackers take this route every year to experience the energy of the place.

More experienced explorers embark on multiday expeditions to combine several lakes. For example, the route around Cannon Mountain is known as The Enchantments Trail; it’s 20 miles long and connects a dozen lakes. 

7. Snow Lakes

Nada Lake in Alpine Lakes Wilderness near Leavenworth Washington
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Snow Lakes
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 5 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping

Snow Lakes are two breathtaking lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness located at the feet of The Temple and McClellan Peak.

Although the trailhead is only 10 minutes from Leavenworth, reaching this destination requires a challenging 15-mile hike. It’s possible to complete it in a day, though.

The season for visiting these lakes is short. Even in mid-June, you will encounter snow that makes an already demanding hike even more challenging. 

There are several designated campsites along the route, and you will pass Nada Lake before reaching Snow Lakes, so really, it’s a 3-in-1 route.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Colchuck Lake, this can be an excellent option, as it’s closer to Leavenworth and doesn’t have as many people. 

8. Horseshoe Lake

Lake in Alpine Lakes Wilderness near Leavenworth Washington
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Horseshoe Lake
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 13 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping

Horseshoe Lake is another stunning option in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It’s a small and remote lake that only seasoned hikers can reach. If you fancy a challenge, this is it.

The great bonus to this 12-mile route is that it runs via Stuart Lake, which is an excellent destination in its own right. The trailhead is the same as Colchuck Lake, and it’s a well-beaten path for the first couple of miles. 

But don’t be fooled; very soon, the trail becomes rugged with fallen trees to jump over, and the final push to the Horseshoe is brutal and steep. You can tackle it in one long day or spend the night at Stuart Lake.

Because Horseshoe Lake is high up, the best time to visit is early fall, when most of the snow is gone. Also, this is when larches turn golden, providing for breathtaking scenery.

9. Lake Valhalla

Valhalla Lake on PCT near Leavenworth Washington
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Lake Valhalla
  • Distance from Leavenworth: 34 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping

Lake Valhalla is another fantastic option for hikers and backpackers. This destination would be an excellent alternative if you explored the Alpine Wilderness Lakes near Leavenworth.

Apart from the name, there are a couple more reasons to visit this lake. One is that it’s incredibly scenic, with majestic Mt Lichtenberg towering above the water. 

Second is that, for the most part, the trail to the lake runs on the renowned Pacific Crest Trail, giving you a chance to touch this legend, soak in the atmosphere, and maybe even meet a thru-hiker or two. Also, you can extend your hike to climb Mt McCausland, which offers unparallel views.

The hike itself is only 3 miles one way and rated moderate. However, there are campsites by the lake, making overnighters possible, too.

Other Lakes in Washington:

Trails in Washington:

You Might Also Like: