A solid piece of local history got cleaned up and clarified last weekend so people can enjoy and use it more in the present as volunteers from across the state continued work on the Candy Point Trail in Coulee Dam.
The trail has historical significance, having been built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in 1937.
Contacted by Coulee Dam’s Parks and Natural Resources Board, last year the Washington Trails Association cleared brush along the 2.25-mile trail. It extends from behind Coulee Dam City Hall up to Candy Point, a hilltop with a great view of the Grand Coulee Dam and more, passes near Crown Point Vista, with the option to cut over to it, then down to a residential yard on Columbia Avenue through which public access is granted.
This year, with an OK from the Bureau of Reclamationafter it conducted an archaeological survey, around 20 volunteers for the WTA did “tread work” on the trail, helping steady and repair the many stone steps that span lengths of the trail, as well as widening and defining it, clearing rocks, and more.
“It’s one of the best trails I’ve ever seen,” said Alan Carter Mortimer, the WTA crew leader on the project. “I’ve been doing this for 21 years, and … I was just amazed! It blew me away.”
The Ice Age Floods Institute is offering guided hikes in the Upper Grand Coulee area this weekend to the Castle Lake Basin and the Giant Cave Arch in the Barker Canyon area. The hikes are led by geologist Gene Kiver and Bruce Bjornstad. Hikers aged 12 and up must register and pay a fee to participate. Visit the IAFI website by clicking here to read more about it or to register.
Geologist Bruce Bjornstad came to Dry Falls-Sun Lakes State Park to give a guided tour of the Caribou Trail to a dog and about 10 human hikers both local, from the Seattle area, and as far away as New England last Saturday.
The approximately 90-minute guided hike started with Bjornstad showing maps of the area depicting what things were like during the Missoula Floods. He showed how a large ice dam used to be where the Grand Coulee Dam is now, and how that had diverted the Columbia River through the Grand Coulee, past Steamboat Rock, and so on. When the ice dam melted, the Columbia took on its current course.
Bjornstad, a licensed geologist/hydrogeologist who used to work for Hanford nuclear production complex in the Tri-Cities area, explained the timescale of the coulees being carved, explaining what a unique feature they are on the planet Earth, the closest thing similar being the landscapes of the planet Mars.
Hiking to huge potholes resembling craters above Deep Lake, Bjornstad explained that they were formed by whirlpools or eddies in the waters that had flooded the region, and simply dug the rocks out of the ground and sent them flying with the sheer force of the current.
“These are some of the best potholes in the world,” Bjornstad said. “There’s dozens of them up there. A lot of times you won’t see them until you’re right up next to them within a few feet when all of the sudden the ground will disappear. They can be hundreds of feet deep and hundreds of feet wide.”
Throughout the hike, Bjornstad was able to answer questions and explain geological features of the region.
A video series Bjornstad produces called Floodscapes is available to view on Youtube. The videos show stunning aerial footage shot with a drone of landscapes shaped by the Missoula Floods, including the Deep Lake Potholes.
When you get to the area, pickup one of our Grand Coulee Dam Area Visitors Guides anywhere for a comprehensive guide to all things in the coulee.
Until you get here, feel free to click on the image above to flip through the digital version of it.