Echo Basin is one of several coulees west of Quincy,
WA, near the Frenchman Hills formed as the Ice Age Floods raged over the surrounding cliffs. At the southwest
end of Echo Basin is a large plateau, named Island Plateau. This plateau
is not only lined with basalt columns, near the center sits an odd group of basalt columns and one free standing basalt spire. The
purpose of this hike was to reach the spire by hiking around the south rim of
Echo Basin. Along the way we passed a small lake, saw a variety of
interesting geologic formations, and took pictures of the Echo Basin panorama. We
also saw an area of diatomaceaous earth,
Mount St. Helens ash, a large sand bar, signs of deer, and a few red-tail hawks. Wear good hiking boots -- the terrain is quite rocky
Photo below: Echo Basin below and Island Plateau out ahead.
Skill: 2 (intermediate).
Fitness: 2- (easy
Distance: 4 miles (round-trip)
Elevation gain: 200 ft
Best seasons: spring, summer, fall
east of Quincy and take I-90 west to Exit 143 (Silica Road). Drive north on
Silica Road about half mile then turn west (left) on Vantage St (aka the Old
Vantage Highway). Follow this 1.5 miles
to the parking area for primitive camping and for climbers accessing the
Sunshine Wall. A Discover Pass is required (this parking lot does get patrolled).
Start hiking from the parking area at Agatha Tower, just southwest of The
Feathers, in Frenchman Coulee. Stop at the top of Echo Basin alcove for a great
view of the coulee. From that vantage point, you can see Island Plateau,
which is the destination of this hike. Continue along the South rim of
Echo Basin and then in a westerly direction to Island Plateau. Unless you are a
skilled rock climber, the best approach down onto Island Plateau is from the
South down a steep hill. There is a
single basalt column, or spire (see photo), worth seeing while at the
plateau. The spire stands at the front of the basalt
monolith. Continue hiking across Island Plateau to the edge of the
rim for a great view of Echo Basin and The Sunshine Wall in the
distance. Be careful hiking down to the Plateau as it is fairly
steep. Enjoy the hike, the scenery, and the interesting geology. See our
photo and map of the route.
Map: See our topo map of this hike.
Hazards. Possible rattlesnakes in the summer months. Cliffs nearby.
WA Department of Fish and Wildlife
Fees/Permits. Discover Pass required for parking.
Leave It Better than
You Found It. This should be every
user’s goal. Do no damage and pick up trash left by others.
Disclaimer. Treat this
information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those
contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes or not know
all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your
actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are
prohibited from using our information.