When you stand in the middle of Horse Lake Ranch, you stand in the middle of a conservation success story.
This 1,500-acre reserve represents a critical piece of protected open lands in the Wenatchee Foothills. Wildlife can move from mountains to the valley. Mule deer will always find a winter haven here. People can hike for miles on trails that start right out the city’s back door.
Comprised of two former homesteads, Horse Lake has outstanding habitat for mule deer, elk, upland game birds, and reptiles. Historically, the sagebrush lands once held struggling fruit trees, part of an early 1900s scheme to grow apples and pears on dry lands. Two brothers, Lee and Everett Burts, farmed wheat on part of the ranch until 2001. They then replanted 270 acres of wheat fields with native species to restore wildlife habitat. Finding a buyer to protect the land was exactly what they had hoped for. The Wallace families, who owned the other ranch included in the Horse Lake property, also wanted the land to be protected from development. John Wallace said, “I did not want to see this area covered with homes and I wanted the public to be able to enjoy the property.”
With assistance from the Icicle Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, expertise from the Wenatchee Sportsmen and the Wallace and Burts families, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust was able to preserve a piece of our local heritage, forever.
Horse Lake Ranch has 360 degree views that showcase land rich with agriculture, water that flows from the Cascades to support healthy salmon, geology that formed our region’s dramatic valleys and ridges, and the people who make this area so special. It truly represents why the Land Trust and its members work so hard to preserve those key areas in North Central Washington, and why collaboration is the key to success. Take an opportunity to visit Horse Lake Ranch, watch the trees change, listen for the birds, and take in the view of the Enchantments—then you can understand how success is measured.
The Land Trust has started a large scale restoration project at Horse Lake. Click here for more information.
For a list of common plants of Horse Lake Reserve, click here.
Conservation Easements Fee Properties Other Conservation Projects
Length: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 944 ft
This trail leaves the Lone Fir Spur and climbs up to meet the Old Ranch Road. It has sweeping views up and down the Wenatchee River Valley from the river confluence to the Enchantments.
Garrity Memorial Bench
Length: 600 ft
Elevation Gain: 40 ft
This short spur takes off north of the saddle from the highest point of the Homestead trail, climbing a short route to the top of a knoll with spectacular views of Glacier Peak and the lower portions of the Horse Lake, including the homestead ranches. Best of all, a bench in honor of conservation champion Dennis Garrity invites you to rest and take in the scenery.
Length: 0.15 miles
Elevation Gain: about 100 ft
A short gravel path from the Horse Lake Trailhead leading to great views of the Wenatchee River Valley with interperative signs and benches at the top.
Length: 0.85 miles
Elevation Gain: 152 ft
A short loop right off the Horse Lake Trailhead perfect for introducing kids to the joy of hiking and biking.
Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1130 ft
The Old Ranch Road leaves the trailhead and passes by the old barn the original homesteaders used. The road make a nice loop with the Homestead Trail and ends in what is left of an old, dry-land apricot orchard.
Length: 1.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 520 ft
This trail is in the upper elevations of the Horse Lake Reserve and meanders through wildflowers patches and big fir trees, and has great views of the Cascade mountains. About a quarter mile beyond where the Homestead Trail connects with the Old Ranch Road, you will see the Apricot Crisp trail take off to the left, just before you enter a big open field. It will reconnect with an old road after about a mile; follow this road about 300 yards uphill (to the left), and the trail will take off again on the right side of the road.