Wellington Ghost Town
Jul 16, 2023
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It is strange how, when you live somewhere your entire life, you can easily miss the things just outside the corner of your eye. I cannot count the number of times I have driven over Steven's Pass. Whether returning from a hike, camping with family, or even driving to one of my favorite little hamlets (Leavenworth), I am sure I drive this road 20-30 times in summer alone each year.

When I met Trailcutter, I found out that, near the top of the pass, just across from the ski area, there is a dirt road leading to the town of Wellington, WA. She asked to stop there once since, after her time living in New Zealand, where Wellington is one of the three major cities, she wanted to take her picture by the sign. That way, she could send it to her friends as a greeting.

Following multiple weeks of heavy climbing, I was looking for an easy day out with a sausage from my favorite spot, so Wellington felt like an ideal place for a trail run to earn my lunch.

The trail starts from a surprisingly well-maintained parking a couple of miles off the highway. Compared to many other places along Highway 2, it felt immaculate. Maybe it is because, like me, many others do not know it is ripe for running (or hiking). Along this first stretch into the actual trail area, several signs talk about the area and why it became a ghost town following the avalanche that occurred here. If you are a history buff and here to learn, stop and check them out. The story about the town is intriguing enough that one of my favorite podcasts Against The Odds did an entire episode about the disaster that rendered the town non-existent.

trail for wellington leaving the trail head
start of the railroad trail
historic are signs along the trail
sign about the history of Wellington
entering the snowshed for the trains passing through wellington
entering the snowshed

For my adventure here in the Wellington Ghost Town, I was going for a trail run, so I used the first 1/2 mile to warm up and take in some of the history. Once I made it through the railway snow shed at the beginning of the trail, I started to jog down the old railroad through the Wellington Ghost Town.

Like many other trails that follow old railroad beds in Washington, the path to Wellington Ghost Town offers a scenic and enjoyable run. It meanders through trees, occasionally revealing breathtaking views of the valley below. The trail's gentle undulations and the intermittent signs that share snippets of history make for a delightful journey. It's a perfect blend of nature and history, a testament to how Steven's Pass evolved into a crucial route through the Cascade Mountains.

snow shed for the old railroad tracks
snow shed for the old railroad
iron goat trail through the old townsite
iron goat trail through the old townsite
views out over the valley below stevens pass
view of the valley

The most exciting part of the run was getting to a point where a long railroad tunnel had been closed to the public. Just next to it, there is a viewpoint with a sign talking about how the railway was rerouted to avoid the site of the Wellington Ghost Town following the disaster. While I sat there eating a snack and pondering, a freight train came winding through the tunnel that replaced the track where Wellington, Washington, once Stood. Watching it roll by and toot its horn felt like getting to experience a bit of history along with the trail running.

trail around a caved in railway tunnel
trail around the tunnel
winding through the forest
winding through the forest
old railway tunnel
old railway tunnel
train passing by on replacement tracks
train in the valley
wellington ghost town rail road path
part of the trail
view east from steven's pass
view east toward leavenworth
railway tunnel
railway tunnel

While the track continues quite a bit further, I turned around and headed back to my car at a light jog. It felt like a lovely day out to stretch my legs and see the wilds for a bit before indulging myself at the Leavenworth Sausage Garten.

Now that I am in New Zealand, it feels a bit ironic that her desire to see a place I knew nothing about because it reminded her of home has now become one of the places that makes me think of home every time I hear the name "Wellington."

section of woods along the old railway track
section of woods
waterfall along the trail
waterfall along the trail
section of the iron goat trail ear wellington washington
wooded section of the trail
railway tunnel with overgrowth
railway tunnel

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