Sauer Mountain, located just a few miles outside of Leavenworth, offers hikers panoramic views of the Wenatchee Valley as well as the chance to see many different species of birds. The trail starts off fairly steep and because of its exposure and relative lack of shade, this one is best done either in the early morning or evening this time of year, although it makes a great early spring or fall hike as well.
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla): Live in thickets and low shrubs and move around a lot so they are hard to spot for any length of time. You’ll see them down low in the brush, not high up in a tree. The female looks similar to the male but doesn’t have the black cap. Photo by Ken Hemberry
The trailhead for Sauer Mountain is located off of North Road in Peshastin. After turning onto Anderson Canyon (at the Peshastin Cemetery), head to where the pavement stops and you’ll find a parking area across from the pond and is open March through October. Access here is a combination of private and US Forest Service, so please be respectful to landowners and smile because this is one area where you actually do not have to use a Discover Pass or NW Forest Service Parking Pass!
For many people living in Leavenworth and visiting the area, the tendency for hikers is to head up either Icicle Canyon, Tumwater, or Stevens Pass for summertime recreation but Sauer Mountain, being located just a bit farther East from those areas, has a distinctly different feel and mix of flaura and fauna.
Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus): One of three red finches that live in the sate of WA. They are all very similar in appearance, with subtle difference but the song is often the best way to identify them. Found in conifers but deciduous trees as well. Oftentimes you will see the finch singing from the top of a tree. Female is brown colored with streaking on the breast, but not colorful like the male. Photo by Ken Hemberry.
Here you’ll find sandstone outcroppings, sagebrush, and dry Central Washington conditions on the approach followed by large pines and cooler conditions up top on the ridge, along with views of Peshastin, Cashmere, Leavenworth, the Enchantments, and Glacier Peak. The trail is about five miles roundtrip but can be made shorter by turning around at one of the viewpoints on the way to the top. There is no fresh water so if you hike with dogs, you’ll want to bring plenty of water for the pooches.
As you are hiking along the trail, keep an ear out for different bird calls. Experienced birders can distinguish birds from their songs and their calls but even beginning birders can learn to spot a variety of different birds by listening for a call then scoping out the source.
Western Tanager(Piranga ludoviciana): Feed in the conifers throughout the tree. Fairly common and one of the prettiest birds in WA state. Frequent visitors to birdfeeders. Photo by Ken Hemberry.
For those interested in identifying and learning more about bird songs-there’s an app for that! Check out the many smartphone apps and websites to hear examples of different bird calls.
California Quail chick (Callipepla californica): . Sometimes you don’t have to look in the trees to find a bird! This chick was only about 2 inches long and had recently hatched. A lot of people think this bird says “Chicago! Chicago!” when it calls others say they think quails say “Oaxaca! Oaxaca!”. Photo by Ken Hemberry.