What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness!
- Helen Keller, from The Story of My Life
Strolling through the Buckner Orchard is a peaceful step out of time. Imagine the families who planted these trees and worked the land, and enjoy the fruits of their labor, and those who followed, if you are here in season. This hike is an excellent stop for anyone touring the scenic sites of the valley, or those looking to explore our history.
Walking along Buckner Lane from the Stehekin Valley Road is a great way to reach the orchard. The path is lined with cedar trees, and follows the original hand dug irrigation ditch that waters the orchard still today. Notice how this small irrigation channel creates a lush microclimate amidst the dry ponderosa pine forest.
Self-guided walk booklets found at two points within the orchard tell the story of the historically registered Buckner Homestead and the family that built it. Enjoy viewing the historic structures and farm equipment, remnants from the orchard's past. There are also nice views of McGregor Mountain from various points along the walkway. The National Park Service still maintains Buckner Orchard as a working apple orchard today. If visiting during the fall, feel free to pick some ripe apples to enjoy a taste of the orchard!
Backcountry Camping: There is no camping at the orchard, but camping can be found within a few miles along the Stehekin Valley Road at Harlequin or Purple Point campgrounds. There is also a group site at Harlequin, and a stock and group site at Purple Point. A backcountry permit is required for all overnight stays. Permits are limited.
Access: From Stehekin landing, walk, bike, or take the shuttle bus 3.1 miles (5 km) from Stehekin Landing to a gravel lane on the left (south) side of the road. Alternatively, look for a path on the left, beginning just past the Old Stehekin School as you are heading up-valley, just before the gravel road turn-off. Known as Buckner Lane, this short trail follows the irrigation channel and provides another route into the orchard.
For more information on current trail conditions, permits, regulations and trip planning please see the Wilderness Trip Planner.
Ninety-three percent of North Cascades National Park Service Complex is designated as the Stephen Mather Wilderness, set aside by law for "the American people of present and future generations" for our protection and enjoyment. Please follow all Leave No Trace hiking and camping practices to reduce your impact on this special place and leave it unimpaired for future generations.
Last updated: December 19, 2012