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Summer heat sends us to rivers and lakes and pools. Folks just naturally look for water-oriented recreation to cool off and have fun.
The best part of the day can be grabbing your tube or “anything that floats and holds ice cold drinks” to take a trek to somewhere wet and refreshing like the Wenatchee River at Waterfront Park.
We don’t have to go very far from the hubbub of activity in downtown Leavenworth to find the delightful promenade for a leisurely stroll or paths on which to take a bicycle ride. We can laze the day away in serene “pockets” of picnicking pleasure, which are located in a totally natural environment.
If a long and quiet walk is on your mind for the day, you can cross Blackbird Island Bridge to Blackbird Island to find a quiet park bench created by an Eagle Scout or donated from someone with a generous nature.
Blackbird Island has River Trail, Channel Trail, and Hot Sands Trail that all lead to Hot Sands Beach and Enchantment Bridge, which takes you to the Enchantment Park system.
The theme of environmental harmony was at the top of the list and paramount throughout the development of the park system. Much of the City’s waterfront was opened up for the use and enjoyment of the residents but, in such a manner and with sufficient safeguards that future generations would be able to enjoy the same pure water, air, vegetation, and wildlife that now exists today.
On July 15, 1975, Governor Dan Evans announced that this project was among 745 outdoor recreation projects funded by the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation to help state and local agencies who want to improve their communities by enhancing and caring for their park systems.
The Waterfront Park project was part of a cooperative agreement between the IAC and the City of Leavenworth. The total cost of the project was $600,000 with $449,066 paid by the fund of Referendum 18 (the Statewide Outdoor Recreation Bond issue approved by the voters in 1968) and $933 paid by the fund of Referendum 28 (the Outdoor Recreation Bond Issue approved by the voters in 1972). The City provided the remaining $150,001 balance.
The Waterfront Park project provided for the development of donated land for passive recreation area, trails, picnic areas and children’s play area. The land donated by Carolyn Schutie comprised 17 acres with over 3,040 of riverfront feet. Blackbird Island was acquired by Chelan County with IAC/BOR funds.
On July 24, 1991, Council voted unanimously to apply for an Aquatic Lands Enchantment Account grant through the Department of Natural Resources. Grant proceeds were used to develop interpretive facilities on the City’s aquatic lands, namely the Waterfront Park complex. The project was developed as a cooperative effort between the United States Forest Service, National Fish Hatchery, and the City to promote the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival, which is held at the National Fish Hatchery every year.
Residents of the area, after viewing and studying the Waterfront Park plan, offered suggestions, and helped determine the park’s benefits to the community. Development of Waterfront Park presented another challenge to the people of such a small community which has become prominent because of its successful accomplishments.
Occasionally, within such a natural and relaxing environment, you may also find the excitement of an acoustic festival taking place or other events happening that blend in with the magic of Leavenworth.
This park system is chock full of activities from fishing to bird watching, which are among the most popular pastimes in the area. Waterfront Park is adjacent to the Barn Beach Reserve, which also offers outings and other events.
If you are lucky, you may see deer, bear, cougar, beaver, birds of all kinds, and fish jumping in the river.
Please remember that wild animals can be unpredictable and dangerous. The same precautions apply when visiting any forest, river or other natural environment:
Wild animals can also become caught up in or injured by food containers and other unnatural items left in the natural environment. We have a “pack it in, pack it out” policy to keep the area as natural as possible, so while you are enjoying your picnics, please remember we have trash receptacles at the parking area, restrooms, and uptown on the sidewalks.
We open in the spring, starting generally on April 15th, depending on the snow melt and cold weather temperatures. We close restroom facilities on October 15th to prepare for the winter.
Trails are open in the winter for walking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.
As long as anyone can remember, Waterfront Park and Blackbird Island have been the City of Leavenworth’s best kept secrets. We’re only letting you in on them because we want to make sure you become part of our tradition and have the opportunity to pass them on!