+4 4 votes

Columbia - Earthquake Point

 

Skill: 1 (beginner)

Fitness: 1+ (easy)

 

Attractions. This is my favorite stretch of the Columbia near Entiat.  Earthquake Point is a point of considerable geologic interest-- a massive landslide in 1872 ripped off Ribbon Cliff on the west side of the river and actually dammed the Columbia River for several hours. Now the islands of rubble in the river are interesting to explore. Furthermore, the eastern banks of the Columbia are not bordered by a highway and are very scenic.

 

Distance.

Option 1: An 8.25-mile loop starting from Earthquake Point and heading mainly upriver.

Option 2: A 7.45-mile loop starting at Daroga State Park, exploring the shoreline around the park ,and then heading up river.

 

Access.

Option 1: On the west side of the Columbia, drive Highway 97A north of Entiat and, at milepost 218.4, park at the interpretive pullout for Earthquake Point on the west side of the highway. Park at the southern end of the pullout on the gravel. To reach the river, cross the highway (careful here, OK?). Cross the railroad next, drop down off the railroad bed, turn right, and walk 60 yards (bordering the railroad bed) to an easy launch on the river’s edge.

 

Option 2: On the east banks of the Columbia, drive Highway 97 north of the Highway 97/Highway 2 junction about 6 miles to the main entrance of Daroga State Park. Enter the park and scope out a place near the river to launch. There is no day-use fee and paddlers who are not relying on any services can launch for free. The park is closed from mid October until mid March, but during this time you can turn off the highway at the southern entrance into the park (the road leading to the group sites). Park along the shoulder of this road near the gate blocking entrance into the park. From here, carry your boat a few hundred yards to the river

 

Trip Instructions.

Option 1: Paddle out of the little inlet where you’ve launched, paddle downstream along the western shore about half mile, cross the river to Daroga Park, explore the park a bit, paddle upstream along the eastern banks of the river for several miles. This portion of the river is less developed, has no road bordering the banks, and is very scenic. Gradually the river takes a big hook to the right and as it starts heading in an easterly direction, you’ll reach a large housing development spread out across the hillside above you. This marks a good place to cross the river again and to start paddling downstream along the western shoreline. As you approach the end of the paddle, spend some time paddling amongst the little islands, boulders, and rubble deposited by the big landslide in 1872.

 

Option 2: Starts from Daroga Park on the opposite side of the river but covers much of the same ground as Option 1. Start by paddling south and paddle about a third of a mile south of the park before crossing the river. Once on the western banks of the Columbia, paddle upstream and spend some time exploring the islands, boulders and debris in the river deposited by the landslide of 1872. Keep paddling upstream and somewhere near River Mile 490 (see our map), cross the river. Now follow the eastern shoreline back downstream to the start.

 

Recommended Season. This is an enjoyable paddle any time of year. In summer, it’s nice to be on the water on a hot day and to jump in the river whenever you overheat. There is, however, a fair bit of motorized river traffic (especially on weekends). I prefer late fall, winter, and early spring when you have the river to yourself and the surrounding mountains are capped with snow.

 

Uses Allowed. Most anything goes.

 

Land Designation. The western shoreline is a mixture of private land and railroad/highway easement. The eastern shoreline is mainly private. Who owns the shoreline below the high-water mark? We don’t have a definitive answer. Tom Feil, a local paddler who has investigated this issue, says: The answer depends on who you talk to. Representatives at the Chelan PUD I’ve asked say the PUD actually owns the land, but I’ve yet to see facts to back this up. The land owners I have talked to say they own the land down to the old river bank before the dam. I believe the land owners are right because I think the PUD only bought the flood rights, not the land, and any land out of the water these days will still belong to the land owner. It may come down to a ruling by the courts to really find out.

 

Fees / Permits. No permits are needed to use either launch site.

 

Maps. If you don’t use our maps, you’ll need both the Entiat and Winesap quads from the USGS 7.5-minute series.

View our map.

 

Info. For more details about Daroga State Park, call 664-6380

 

Trip Reporter (and date): Andy Dappen, 11/16/2006

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