Perched above the Columbia River, the upper section of Beebe Springs Natural Area in Chelan Falls offers a short loop trail with moderate elevation gain. Sweeping views of the Columbia River are the main attraction, and this is a great shoulder season hike, with wildflowers in the spring, while the yellow leaves of the fall contrast nicely with the blue of the river in the fall. Note, both trails navigate a steep hillside, and this hike is not recommended during the winter when the trail may be icy.
There are two trailheads that access this loop, the Toad Creek trailhead in the Chelan Fish hatchery at the bottom of the loop and the upper trailhead off of Route 150 heading towards Chelan at the top of the loop. Either trailhead is fine, and which you choose will likely depend on where you are coming from.
From the Toad Creek trailhead, follow the Toad Creek Trail until it splits into a loop and head left. In a short distance take a left at the intersection with the Chelan Bob and follow the trail up the steep hillside, admiring views of the Columbia River. Towards the top, you will pass by signage detailing the local geology. Depending on the season, the trail may be a little hard to follow at the top, but you will eventually crest a hill and descend down towards the upper parking lot. From the parking lot, head north along a dirt road and the Cultus Jim trail will be on your right. Descend the steep hillside, and after crossing the Toad Creek bridge, head left on the Toad Creek loop trail.
With the upper regions of the Chelan Valley coated in an early season snow, Beebe Springs Natural Area was the perfect place to take advantage of an afternoon sun break. While I had explored the river trails, I had yet to hike the upper section and was looking forward to a quick hike with outstanding views of the Columbia River.
I pulled into an empty parking lot, which wasn't surprising given its well past tourist season in Lake Chelan, and even during tourist season, I don't think these trails get a ton of use. While the rain had dissipated and the sun was out, it was still quite windy, and I threw on my wind breaker for some added protection.
For no real particular reason, I decided to head Cultus Jim for the descent. I walked a short ways up a dirt road and then took a right onto the trail and began my descent down the steep hillside. The trail is a mixture of switchbacks and stone stairs, and given the fast approaching winter, I noted this would not be a good hike when there is snow on the ground! But it wasn't that cold yet, and I enjoyed the views as I made my way down the trail.
It was a pretty quick hike down to the flats, and soon I found myself crossing the Toad Creek Bridge. Shortly thereafter at the intersection with the Toad Creek loop trail, and headed right on the loop towards the Chelan Bob trail.
The Toad Creek trail is a wide gravel trail, and this section meadered slightly up the hillside. Even with the steady wind, I could hear the drone of traffic on highway 97 and route 150 as I worked my way towards Chelan Bob.
The intersection with Chelan Bob trail was well marked, and I started my ascent up the trail. For some reason, the views from Chelan Bob seemed better than Cultus Jim. Perhaps the views were more sweeping, or the numerous yellow trees made a nice contrast with the river? I found myself hopping up on rock outcrops as I progressed up the trail to enjoy the view and snap some photos.
Three quarters of the way up the Chelan Bob trail there were a couple of interpretive signs with interesting information about the history and geology of the area.
Near the very top, it was a little hard to follow the trail. The sage brush and grass obscured the trail near the last interpretive sign, and it took a small amount of investigation to locate the trail and stone steps. There also seemed to be a couple other faint side trails, either from the deer or perhaps people venturing off the trail.
I followed the stone steps onto the top of the rock outcropping above the parking lot and then made my way down to the car. It was a nice short hike, and great to get out and enjoy the late fall sunshine. Winter is almost here!