Located within the 197-acre Wenatchee Confluence State Park, just minutes from downtown Wenatchee, the Horan Natural Area is a wonderful place to take a quiet stroll and contemplate the beauty and importance of our state's rivers. Here the wild Wenatchee River flows into the harnessed Columbia. An oasis among parched hills, Horan is also an oasis for critters amid a rapidly developing valley.
Begin by taking the paved Apple Capital Trail to the right, quickly coming to a beautiful art deco-inspired bridge that spans the Wenatchee River. At the far end of the bridge, find the entrance to the Horan Natural Area. Be sure to check out the information kiosk before proceeding. Then, on a gravel surface trail, wander along oxbow ponds bursting with birds and frogs and under rows of cottonwoods. Come to a junction where you can go left or right: it doesn't matter, it's a loop.
Along the way enjoy riparian bottomlands, river views, and glimpses out to Mission Ridge and the Sage Hills. Look for muskrats among the cattails and beavers among the willows. And throughout the Natural Area, watch for birds: warblers, kingfishers, kingbirds, towhees, quails, and scores of others.
When settlers arrived in Central Washington, explorers and trappers for the Northwest Fur Company paddled the Columbia River and established the area's first trading post. The land that is now the Horan Natural Area was cultivated for a variety of purposes, including growing alfalfa for livestock, vineyard grapes, pear orchards and even a golf driving range.
In 1990, Chelan County acquired 100 acres of land from the Horan family and turned it into a manmade wetland. The area is now a part of Wenatchee Confluence State Park, and is a year-round oasis for waterfowl, birds, mammals and, in winter, migrating bald eagles.