Skill: 1 (beginner)
Fitness: 1 (easy)
Attractions. The first 2 miles of this paddle is an excellent stretch of moving water for novices to learn whitewater basics: eddy turns, ferrying, bracing, surfing. A few class 1 to 2- rapids provide practice for contending with waves. Difficulty of the water depends on the water level (easier at medium to low water levels). The latter portion of this paddle provides a quiet, pleasant float through the delta and sloughs at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers. The wildlife and bird life is thick here and you’ll feel surprisingly removed from Wenatchee even though you are, for all intents and purposes, within the city limits.
Distance. Roughly 5 river miles from Sleepy Hollow Bridge (northwest of Wenatchee) to Riverfront Park on the Columbia River (in Wenatchee). This paddle can be bee-lined very quickly, especially in high water. At medium and low water levels, however, if you take the opportunity to practice paddling techniques and to explore the sloughs around the confluence, you can easily spend two to three hours on the water.
Water Levels. Recommended river levels are from 1,000 cfs to 5,000 cfs (check the River-Flows links under our Conditions tab). Below 1,000 cfs there are a lot of rocks to avoid. Above 5,000 cfs expect sharp eddy lines, bigger waves in places and a higher potential for a frigid swim. The easiest level is around 2,000 cfs. The river gradient from Cashmere to the highway crossing at Wenatchee is 15 feet per mile.
The Take-Out. Park a car at either Confluence State Park (shortest option) or Riverfront Park. These instructions are for leaving a vehicle or a bicycle at Riverfront Park. Drive east on Fifth Street in Wenatchee until it terminates at Riverfront Park. Turn left here at road’s end and drive a few hundred yards north through parking lots. Park as far north as possible. From here you can walk 50 to 75 yards down to the river where you’ll see a good lawn and sand beach (if the water is lower) to exit the Columbia River.
NOTE: The shuttle is easily done by bicycle. Chain a bike to a tree and carry a helmet and bike shoes in your whitewater bag. Instructions for a good bike route can be found in our Biking-Road guidebook (Wenatchee-Monitor: Short Loop).
Put-In Access (At Sleepy Hollow Bridge). Drive west from Wenatchee on Highway 2. About two miles from the Wenatchee city limits, turn left (south) onto Lower Sunnyslope Rd. After .25 miles, turn right onto Sleepy Hollow Road. Cross the bridge and use the 20-minute loading/unloading zone on the left (south) side of the road. Hike your boat to the river on the downstream side of the bridge along an obvious path. During the summer, a portable toilet is available on the upstream side of the road another 50 yards to the west. Do not park your car here– doing so jeopardizes the long-term use of this site. It could also result is a fat ticket.
Put-In Parking: Issues/ Rules. Access to the river at the Sleepy Hollow bridge was arranged during the spring of 2006 by the hard work of several paddlers (notably Dick and Kathy Spencer) working with the county to address a variety of problems. Access had been closed to the public because people illegally parked all over the shoulder, trespassed on nearby private property, and trashed the area with litter and human waste. Access here is still tenuous and paddlers need to be good stewards by not violating the temporary parking signs, not littering, and picking up the litter of others (leave it cleaner than you found it). If you see parked cars violating the temporary parking arrangements, please report this to the Chelan County Sheriff (509-663-9911). After unloading, return to Lower Sunnyslope Rd to park. The closest parking is on the north shoulder of the road the Sleepy Hollow Nursery.
–Put-in on the downstream side of the bridge. At high flows expect weird currents beneath Sleepy Hollow Bridge. Mileage figures below are approximate
–.25 miles: you’ll encounter some nice surfing waves.
–.5 miles: Railroad Rapids. So named because you face a railroad track, and the river wants to “railroad” you right into some large standing waves on the right.
–.75 miles: the river splits. Take either side. The right channel offers some possibilities for practicing eddy turns. Depending on the water level either side could sport waves.
–1.25 miles: The channels rejoin.
–1.5 miles: Some large boulders on river left offer more eddy turn possibilities.
–2 miles: Pass under a bridge which carries an irrigation pipeline.
— 2.25 miles: Pass under the highway bridge.
–2.5 miles: Pass under an old railroad bridge with a wood abutment: Watch out for logs that sometimes get caught on this abutment. A pedestrian bridge which is part of the Loop Trail follows immediately after the Railroad Bridge.
Exiting the River. There are several options for taking out. The shortest is to paddle straight on down the Wenatchee River to the Columbia, and then head upstream to Wenatchee Confluence State Park. You’ll log a bit more paddling, however, if you follow the Columbia River downstream to Riverfront Park. Either way, do a little exploration, and paddle some of the sloughs here where the two rivers intersect. If Wenatchee Confluence State Park is your destination, hug the far left bank at the Railroad Bridge–this puts you into a slough system that comes out on the Columbia close to the park. If your destination is Riverfront Park, take the slough on the right just before reaching the Columbia. At very low water levels getting through these sloughs can be a challenge. The distance from the highway bridge to Wenatchee Confluence State Park is approximately 1 mile. The distance to Riverfront Park is approximately 2 miles.
Trip Reporter. John Marshall with notes from Andy Dappen, 7/27/06
Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse old fire rings, throw branches over unwanted spur trails…
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.