Washougal Off The Beaten Path Tips by glabah
Washougal Off The Beaten Path: 4 reviews and 18 photos
Entrance Artwork from Refuge to Columbia R. Trail
When the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge opened its trail to the public in June of 2009, it was announced that as time, funding and energy became available artwork would be installed along the trail, designed to remind people that this was the home of wildlife, the delicate balance of life here, and that essentially visitors are guests in the home of fellow creatures.
However, it would be late 2010 before funding, time and energy allowed work to begin on the art installations. Others were installed in 2011.
In the meantime, Washougal completed its Tunnel under Highway 14, which features artworks in itself.
To me, I find the various thoughts and quotes etched in the rocks scattered around the refuge as the most thought provoking part of the art trail in the refuge. The section of the trail that is closed in winter now features a door and doorway with a "Do Not Disturb during Winter" sign on it. Unfortunately I'm not sure even that is obvious enough artwork to get through to many who visit here that this is actually a home (for the wildlife) and not an area specifically for tourists.
The record sculptures are subtle enough that people actually find them confusing. These are giant 33 LP record-like sculptures attached to the side of a bridge near the refuge parking area, and in my opinion are designed to show that the music of the location is already provided by the wildlife found here. If you listen to your own record collection you will miss part of the value of the location. Unfortunately, people born after about 1980 probably have no idea what the giant black disk is supposed to represent, and indeed I have heard one member of the younger generation ask about a local music distribution, "What's with these giant black CDs?" I've seen people go up to the records and push on them, hoping they would play a sound. The fact is, the record is apparently there to show that there is music in the air (at least part of the year) and give a general impression of what the sound may be, by showing marks on a sound graph. It is only visual art, not anything that actually does anything for you when you hit it.
I'm not convinced that the artwork found along this trail is something that is interesting enough to be worthy of a trip here, unless you are also interested in visiting the refuge to see the wildlife - as that is where the real beauty in the place lies. The artwork is only to compliment that which is already here, and has been for many years, which is as it should be in a wildlife refuge.
To get here, please find my Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge tip. The trail is the only trail in the refuge. Essentially you just turn into the parking lot from highway 14, though parking is limited and on nice weekends will be fully occupied. It is also possible to get here from Captian William Clark Park by using the Columbia River Dike Trail, or for that matter it is possible to get here from downtown Washougal (17th south of A street by the Pendleton Woolen Mill Factory Store) or Steamboat Landing Park by using the trail along the dike as well.
The Native American inspired artwork in the pedestrian tunnel under Highway 14, which connects downtown Washougal to the Columbia River Dike Trail is probably of more interest to art fans, and may be worth a stop if you are heading through town. To better appreciate the art on the Wildlife Refuge, it is better to also have an appreciation for the wildlife that lives, there, which not all people have.
Reproductions of Native American Art in Tunnel
Completed in early 2010, a new tunnel under Highway 14 now connects Steamboat Landing Park with downtown Washougal. This makes it much easier and safer for those visiting downtown to visit the relaxing recreational areas along the Columbia River, or continue eastward on the Columbia Dike Trail to Captain William Clark Park or all the way to the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge or a little beyond it. It also means those on the Dike Trail and visiting Steamboat Landing Park can simply walk into town if they want to get something there or eat at a local restaurant, or use it as space for additional parking as Steamboat Landing Park can be fully occupied by vehicles at times. Connecting downtown Washougal with these areas provides a considerable improvement in access and really has the potential to benefit a number of visitors to both downtown Washougal and its nice river side parks.
The interior of the tunnel features artwork inspired by local Native American art works, including the pictographs and petroglyphs at Horsethief Lake State Park. One of the items on the southern most rock in the tunnel is an image of She Who Watches, which is a legendary figure in local Native American folklore.
The lighting in the tunnel is at the side and from the floor going up the walls. This allows great lighting of the artwork, and also seems to create a better environment inside the tunnel than the harsh overhead lighting such pedestrian underpasses normally have.
Access to the tunnel from downtown Washougal is south on Pendleton (an extension / segment of 17th Street) past the Pendleton Woolen Mill and Store Parking Lot and into the tunnel at the end of the road.
The connection to the Washougal Dike Trail is slightly east of the parking lot for Steamboat Landing Park.
The downhill section of the dike is both a well built staircase and a switchback ramp for wheelchair or other wheeled access (bikes are very popular on the dike trail, but are prohibited inside the Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge).
The URL at the bottom of this tip is for the city of Washougal. To get to the parks department web site, you will need to select Departments -> Public Works and then select Parks.
The parks department has the tunnel under 24 hour video surveillance due to the risk of vandalization of the imitation Native American art work.
Photo 1: A view through the Tunnel, including some of the Native American inspired artwork inside the tunnel. These panels are all inspired by the petroglyphs and pictographs in the Columbia River Gorge near some of the old Native American community locations.
Photo 2: North Entrance to the Tunnel. This is what you would see if you were standing near the entrance to the Pendleton Woolen Mills store.
Photo 3: The entrance to the tunnel on the river side of the road. From here it is possible to access Steamboat Landing Park, the Columbia Dike Trail, and other areas along the river. The environment is completely the opposite (concrete vs wild plants) on the other end of the tunnel.
Photo 4: A view of some of the other Native American inspired art works in the tunnel.
Photo 5: On the south side of he tunnel, there is this stone which gives credit to those who participated in making the tunnel a reality.
(Note: The Following Photos are kept elsewhere on my Washougal Page, not inside this tip, as it is only possible to have five photos per tip on VirtualTourist.)
Photo 6: A view looking north out of the tunnel into downtown Washougal.
Photo 7:%L* Detail view of "She Who Watches" (Tsagiglalal) in modern stone in the tunnel. This is a modern version of the most famous of the Native American artworks in the Columbia River Gorge, but is also the most vandalized and therefore today the most protected.
Washougal Town Square has Open Plaza
A large new development has sprung up on the south side of downtown Washougal. This set of shops, residential development and office space is called "Washougal Town Square".
However, what is hidden from view from the main streets through town is this new multiple use development surrounds a semi-public plaza which is well protected from surrounding traffic noise due to the buildings, and is a pleasant place to enjoy the outdoors if the weather is nice. There are a few protected areas when the weather isn't so nice.
The large ultra-modern sculpture in the middle of the plaza serves also as a location for one of the new buildings to deposit its rainwater.
The web site below is for the private development effort, which owns the plaza.
How to Get Here:
From highway 14, turn north on Washougal River Road / 15th Street. Turn right onto A Street and find parking somewhere in the next block or two. The grand staircase into the plaza is on 17th and A, but several other entrances to the plaza exist from other locations.
Picnic Area, Boat Ramp and Small Beach in Park
Located just north of downtown Washougal, this little park is packed with picnic tables (both in the shade and in the sun, and a few of them with cooking stands), tennis courts, several playgrounds, an athletic field, and access to the Washougal River. The park is divided into two sections by a short bluff. The section at the top of the bluff is the only section visible as you approach the park from town, but if you keep going north on 25th street the road makes an abrupt plunge to near river level, where a small beach, the boat launch ramp, a fairly good sized sports field, and picnic areas are located - in addition to those features in the upper section of the park.
As an added bonus, the park is fairly quiet except on summer weekends, when it is flooded with people enjoying the nice weather. Even so, it is far enough away from busy roads that it is reasonably peaceful here, in terms of such things as loud traffic noise.
There is a very small boat ramp here, but the river is quite shallow and has small rapids both up stream and down stream. Therefore, most people seem to use this as a launching spot for inflatable craft of various sorts, rather than actual hard hull boats.
One of the playgrounds is an unusual rock and tree feature area that I have not seen anywhere else. Others of the various playgrounds in the park (there are several playgrounds here) feature fairly common mass produced play equipment found in just about any of the parks in the region.
There are several small city parks in Washougal, but due to the location along the river and the sheer number of features in it make Hathaway Park a particularly good spot to visit if you are looking for a nice picnic spot or other relaxation point on your way through the area.
How to Get Here: From highway 14 take the 15th street traffic light and go north across the railroad tracks and turn right onto G street. The grove of large evergreen trees on the north side of the road indicates you have arrived at the park.
The web site below is for the city of Washougal. To get to the parks section, select Departments -> Public Works, and then select "Parks" from the new page that appears.
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