Nature Walks within Minutes from Downtown Wenatchee
In Wenatchee, we are as close to nature as we are to city life. It’s easy to pick one of the other while not having to drive but a mile or two.
Below are three options to enjoy the birds and the trees – and maybe even a moose-sighting – within quick reach from downtown Wenatchee.
- Horan Natural Area
You can reach it from two points: from Wenatchee Confluence State Park (https://parks.state.wa.us/286/Wenatchee-Confluence), park right outside the park so you don’t need the Discover Pass or from Walla Walla Point Park (http://www.chelanpud.org/parks-and-recreation/our-parks/day-use-parks/walla-walla-point-park).
From the Confluence Park, follow the Apple Capitol Loop Trail (https://www.chelanpud.org/parks-and-recreation/our-parks/apple-capital-loop-trail) to the south, cross the river and enter the Horan area (https://visitwenatchee.org/listing/horan-natural-area-3/) on the left.
From Walla Walla Point Park, walk northwards, past the ballfields and as soon as you come to the end of them, descend to the Horan area along the gravel road to your right. Pets are allowed in the area, but must be kept on a leash at all times.
As you stroll along the two miles of gravel paths, you may see such birds as Steller’s Jays, chickadees, red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, mallards and great blue herons – not to mention bald eagles!
The bird population changes with the seasons. It is actually so varied and rich that birders come from as far away as Seattle and surrounding states to observe the avian life in the Horan area.
Besides birds, you may spot raccoons scurrying about, muskrats swimming in the lagoons or even a moose peacefully resting in the tall grass.
The fifteen interpretive stations, many with benches, will offer information and good views and maybe an invitation to sit and linger during your walk.
- Porter’s Pond
The east side of the Columbia River, where the Apple Capitol Loop Trail continues alongside both the George Sellar Bridge and the Odabashian Bridge, offers more opportunities for nature walks. The eastern portion of the Loop Trail is in a more natural state than the western section.
Porter’s Pond can be found a short distance, some 100 yards, from the 19th St. parking area at the Public Services Building. From the parking lot, walk across the Loop Trail and go to the left, following the dirt paths leading to the river. You will find many delightful mini-environments in the area.
At the very south end of Porter’s Pond you will come to an estuary where several streams separate the land; an invitation to skip and jump from one section to another, finding the child in you.
The large black cottonwood trees dominating the spot offer plenty of cover to observe the waterfowl without being noticed. Bring your camera!
You can follow the paths northward or, if your shoes and legs area sturdy, walk right along the river’s edge. Keep to the river’s side of the Loop Trail to discover the paths.
You will come to a growth of mixed deciduous trees though which a dirt path will take you to wooden steps leading up to the trail.
You can continue the nature walk by crossing the trail and slightly to the left, follow a sandy track leading you onwards.
You will soon cross a vast open area and about a mile farther you will see an old chimney remnant standing right next to the Loop Trail. That will be your marker to descend to the river again and follow the path back to your starting point. You will not spend more than a few minutes on the paved path.
You are likely to see many squirrels and depending on the season, plenty of waterfowl, kingfishers, cedar waxwings or even blue herons if you are quiet and cautious. A couple of Anna’s hummingbirds have made the area their home, as well.
- Coyote Dunes
Another option on the east side of the Columbia River, right along the Apple Capitol Loop Trail, is the Coyote Dunes (https://www.ncwlife.com/new-chelan-county-pud-park-named-coyote-dunes-natural-area/) area.
It’s a 26-acre area managed by the Department of Natural Resources with free access to all. The easiest access to it is from the East Wenatchee side 32nd Place NW parking area.
From the parking lot, cross the Loop Trail and aim for the river. You will soon find paths following the ridge line, first from up higher and gradually descending down to the water’s edge. The path is in places gravel, in others sandy, but easy to walk on until you reach the cliffs before the actual beach area.
Even over the cliff portion, you will have the option of climbing and balancing over the rock formations to get nice views of the river and maybe a rabbit running by or staying on the more-traveled sandy path on the flat plain.
Flickers seem to favor this area and can be seen flying back and forth, on occasion calling out to warn others of human presence. Song sparrows and other small birds like the sagebrush and serviceberry growths.
Looking onto the water, you may spot a cormorant or loons looking for their next catch. Osprey frequent the area in the warmer months, enjoying the abundant fish in the river.
You may also see beaver swimming along the shoreline, heading for its den formations just south of the Odabashian Bridge.
All these three nature walks are only minutes from Wenatchee’s center and you will never lose sight of the city, but you will feel like you are miles away.