InWenatchee, we are as close to nature as we are to city life. It’s easy to pickone of the other while not having to drive but a mile or two.
Beloware three options to enjoy the birds and the trees – and maybe even amoose-sighting – within quick reach from downtown Wenatchee.
- Horan Natural Area
You can reach it from two points: fromWenatchee 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 WallaWalla Point Park (http://www.chelanpud.org/parks-and-recreation/our-parks/day-use-parks/walla-walla-point-park).
From the Confluence Park, follow the AppleCapitol Loop Trail (https://www.chelanpud.org/parks-and-recreation/our-parks/apple-capital-loop-trail) to thesouth, cross the river and enter the Horan area (https://visitwenatchee.org/listing/horan-natural-area-3/)on the left.
From Walla Walla Point Park, walknorthwards, 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 allowedin the area, but must be kept on a leash at all times.
As you stroll along the two miles ofgravel paths, you may see such birds as Steller’s Jays, chickadees, red-wingedblackbirds, Canada geese, mallards and great blue herons – not to mention baldeagles!
The bird population changes with theseasons. It is actually so varied and rich that birders come from as far awayas Seattle and surrounding states to observe the avian life in the Horan area.
Besides birds, you may spot raccoonsscurrying about, muskrats swimming in the lagoons or even a moose peacefullyresting in the tall grass.
The fifteen interpretive stations, manywith benches, will offer information and good views and maybe an invitation tosit and linger during your walk.
- Porter’s Pond
The east side of the Columbia River, wherethe Apple Capitol Loop Trail continues alongside both the George Sellar Bridgeand the Odabashian Bridge, offers more opportunities for nature walks. Theeastern portion of the Loop Trail is in a more natural state than the westernsection.
Porter’s Pond can be found a shortdistance, some 100 yards, from the 19th St. parking area at thePublic Services Building. From the parking lot, walk across the Loop Trail andgo to the left, following the dirt paths leading to the river. You will findmany delightful mini-environments in the area.
At the very south end of Porter’s Pond youwill come to an estuary where several streams separate the land; an invitationto skip and jump from one section to another, finding the child in you.
The large black cottonwood treesdominating the spot offer plenty of cover to observe the waterfowl withoutbeing noticed. Bring your camera!
You can follow the paths northward or, ifyour shoes and legs area sturdy, walk right along the river’s edge. Keep to theriver’s side of the Loop Trail to discover the paths.
You will come to a growth of mixeddeciduous trees though which a dirt path will take you to wooden steps leadingup to the trail.
Youcan 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 andabout a mile farther you will see an old chimney remnant standing right next tothe Loop Trail. That will be your marker to descend to the river again andfollow the path back to your starting point. You will not spend more than a fewminutes on the paved path.
You are likely to see many squirrels anddepending on the season, plenty of waterfowl, kingfishers, cedar waxwings oreven blue herons if you are quiet and cautious. A couple of Anna’s hummingbirds have made thearea their home, as well.
- Coyote Dunes
Another option on the east side of theColumbia 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’sa 26-acre area managed by the Department of Natural Resources with free accessto all. The easiest access to it is from the East Wenatchee side 32ndPlace NW parking area.
From the parking lot, cross the Loop Trailand aim for the river. You will soon find paths following the ridge line, firstfrom up higher and gradually descending down to the water’s edge. The path is in places gravel, in otherssandy, but easy to walk on until you reach the cliffs before the actual beacharea.
Even over the cliff portion, you will havethe option of climbing and balancing over the rock formations to get nice viewsof the river and maybe a rabbit running by or staying on the more-traveledsandy path on the flat plain.
Flickers seem to favor this area and canbe seen flying back and forth, on occasion calling out to warn others of humanpresence. Song sparrows and other small birds like the sagebrush andserviceberry growths.
Looking onto the water, you may spot acormorant or loons looking for their next catch. Osprey frequent the area inthe warmer months, enjoying the abundant fish in the river.
You may also see beaver swimming along theshoreline, heading for its den formations just south of the Odabashian Bridge.
All these three nature walks are onlyminutes from Wenatchee’s center and you will never lose sight of the city, butyou will feel like you are miles away.