Columbia Plateau Trail - Geological Features

Geological Features

As it crosses the Columbia River Plateau it passed through the unique geological erosion features of the channeled scablands created by the cataclysmic Missoula Floods that swept periodically across this portion of eastern Washington as well as other parts of the Columbia River Plateau during the Pleistocene epoch. The trail follows one of the many paths taken by the Missoula Floods as they cut through the Columbia River Basalt. Notable geologic features which the trail passes include the Cow Creek scabland, the point at which the Palouse River departs its former course (captured by ice-age flood erosion), Washtucna Coulee (the abandoned course of the Palouse River scoured wide by the floods), Devil’s Canyon (a dry straight 4-mile (6.4 km) long former flood channel which descends to the Snake River), giant current-created ripples formed by the flood currents in the low lands along the Snake River, and the Walker Bar, created by the outflow of the floods.

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