Maps quick view - #1 Map

Photo: Cliffs rising above the Columbia River near Crescent Bar

Paul and Muriel Milem have been using the Indian summer weather of autumn to paddle different segments of the Columbia River in Central Washington. After knocking off all the entries in our guidebook, they’ve been exploring new stretches of water. Recently they paddled around Crescent Bar and had such a good time they did the same trip two days in a row. Here’s their report.

Good things:

  • Starting and ending at the same place.
  • Paddling at the base of towering cliffs.
  • For less skilled paddlers, you can stay near the shore all the way around.
  • On windy days, one can explore the sheltered water side of the island.
  • For a longer paddle, there’s an island across the river to check out.
  • Lots of deciduous trees of various kinds. Lots of birds, ducks, and geese.

Bad things:

  • The back side of the island is a “no wake zone”, so we had to keep our speed down  : )
  • For purists who would rather not mix with motorists having fun, this would not be a recommended trip in summer. On weekdays in autumn, however, we only encountered two or three motorboats.

Access. Crescent Bar is about 24 miles from Wenatchee. Take Highway 28 toward Quincy and, near Trinidad, turn right onto Crescent Bar Road. After 0.8 miles, keep left; cross a bridge at 2.5 miles; at 2.6 miles, turn left at a sign that reads “Public Beach Access”. There will be a parking area, a small picnic area, and the “beach” just beyond. This is where paddle craft can be launched. This is definitely a paddling destination worth recommending—it’s wonderful.

Trip Instructions. This is a simple but scenic trip that’s roughly 4 to 4.5 miles long. Crescent Bar is an island, and if you head to the left, you can paddle under the bridge and out onto the larger part of the Columbia River. We took our time and, in 1 hour and 45 minutes, we were back at the starting spot, having paddled around the island.

Maps. See our map below for more information.. The green dashed route is what this report describes. For a trip along the cliff-lined Columbia that is about 10.5 miles long, follow the blue route.

Winds can be strong on the Columbia and can greatly affect your safety and progress. For information about current and forecasted winds, check this link at

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.

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