Whether you live in North Central Washington or are just passing through, consider taking the time for a picnic. The region is full of great places to eat outside. Enjoy some time in the shade under a tree, next to a river, or with an amazing view. Regardless of what you’re looking for, there is inevitably a spot you’ll enjoy.Although there are a lot of parks in the area with really obvious picnic areas, there are some other hidden gems that are less well known but well worth the consideration. Here are some suggestions to consider.
The Boat Launch by Pybus MarketIf you’re looking for an easy walk to a picnic spot after you’ve bought all your picnic ingredients at Pybus, you’re in luck. There are several picnic tables in the shade just downstream of the boat launch along the Columbia River. Take your pick of shade or sun as you watch the passerby on the river or along the Apple Capital Loop Trail. Best of all, you’re close to gelato at Ice if you need to go back for dessert! Parking is nearby, so this picnic spot is easily accessible to everyone.
19th Street Entrance to the Apple Capital Loop Trail, East WenatcheeThe Apple Capital Loop Trail is a paved 10+ mile loop trail that runs along both sides of the Columbia River through Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, connected by bridges at each end. One of the lesser-known entrances to the Loop Trail is off of 19th Street in East Wenatchee. The park at the entrance has a single picnic table, and also a lot of cool grass where you can spread out and enjoy your food. It’s just a couple hundred yards from the parking lot and bathrooms past the picnic area to the trail and the river when you’re ready for a post-meal walk.
Ohme GardensOhme Gardens is always a cool, soothing oasis for visitors, regardless of the weather. The Ohme Family built the garden on a hill overlooking the Columbia River in 1929; it’s full of still pools, quiet shaded trails and emerald green grass.Ohme Gardens is dedicated to keeping its grounds pristine. For this reason, they don’t generally allow food in the gardens, but their picnic area that sits outside the entrance is nestled under giant cedar trees and is well worth the visit. A day pass to Ohme Gardens ($8 adult; $4 kids; ages 5 and under free) is good all day, so you can take a walk through the park, come out to enjoy your lunch then go back to digest your meal while you take in the stunning views. There is one exception to their picnic rule: if you invest in a season’s pass ($60; $30 adult; $15 youth) you get picnic rights within the Gardens during weekdays. If you’re one of those lucky members, there’s a stone picnic table where you can set up for lunch.Although the gardens are beautiful, keep in mind that the trails can be narrow, uneven and are on a hillside. The outer picnic area is easily accessed for those with limited mobility, however not all the grounds are equally as accessible.Rocky Reach DamRocky Reach Dam is a great place for a picnic, just a short jaunt (8 miles) up Highway 97A from Wenatchee. They have several picnic areas – choose between shade or sun, depending on the time of day. All tables are easily accessible, with a playground to keep kids entertained. Their Discovery Center is open daily, too, so you can wander through and see salmon on their way upstream and learn more about the dam’s history and the hydroelectric power that the region depends on.Picnic Areas to Hike ToIf you like picnic spots with a view, there are a couple additional places to consider. However, keep in mind that these spots don’t have the same amenities. There are no tables, and you’ll need to be sure you pack all your trash out with you, since there are no garbage receptacles. Both these spots have little to no shade, so be sure to check the weather beforehand and plan accordingly. Take sunblock, plenty of water and maybe consider a breakfast picnic if the weather’s supposed to be hot.
Horselake TrailsHorselake Trails is a well-known multi-use trail system in the foothills behind Wenatchee. There’s a loop you can hike or mountain bike that’s just over four miles, with a bench on a hilltop midway through. Take your food with you to the bench and enjoy sweeping views up toward the towering Enchantments Mountains and down toward the Columbia River. This trail is especially wonderful in the spring, when the balsamroot and lupine are blooming and it’s not as hot, as there’s NO shade along this trail.To access the trailhead, drive up Horselake Road until the pavement ends. The trailhead is 3 miles up the dirt road. There’s a pit toilet at the trailhead, but no other amenities. Park there and take the Homestead Trail up and the Old Ranch Road Trail back down to complete the loop, or vice versa. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers!SaddlerockSaddlerock is the iconic rock outcropping that looms over Wenatchee. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunrise, or the sunset, although there’s no shade so it may be too hot for a midday hike in the summer. Nevertheless, the view from the top is breathtaking, and there’s plenty of room to sit and enjoy a meal. You may need to bring something to sit on if relaxing on a rock or in the dirt doesn’t appeal to you.There are two ways to access Saddlerock: a shorter, steeper trail on the south side is 2 miles round trip. The other option is longer although not as steep and starts on the north side of Saddlerock near the Wenatchee Raquet and Athletic Club through the Jacobsen Reserve; this second option is closer to four miles round trip. There’s a toilet at the south entrance, but not at the Jacobsen Reserve entrance. For more information on trailhead locations, parking, amenities, etc., click here.