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Manastash Ridge

The hike starts steep and continues steep for 2 miles on exposed desert terrain all the way to the top of the ridge at memorial point, gaining about 2000 ft. From there the trail follows roads wandering along the ridge with many branch offs. 3 miles west of memorial point is supposed to be a weather station but we did not go quite that far. Wide open views in all directions.
Driving Directions:

To get there exit I-90 at Thorp and go south on the Thorp Highway to Cove Road. Parking at the end of the road.

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There are 27 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Manastash Ridge, Westberg Trail — Apr 06, 2014 — HikerJim
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Saturday was shaping up to be a dismal day. Rain on the west side, rain east of the crest, rain ever...
Saturday was shaping up to be a dismal day. Rain on the west side, rain east of the crest, rain everywhere. I was not sure I would have any time to hike this weekend but I got caught up enough to get out Saturday. Janet wanted to head east. Neither of us had done Manastash Ridge so I signed on. The trail is renowned for spring wildflowers. A report from earlier in the week showed the slight beginnings of the color show. Even over there it was supposed to rain later in the day so we met in Bellevue at 7:10 am. Most of the drive east it rained. Sometimes lightly and near the Cascade crest much harder. Beyond Easton we began to see some clearing farther east. By Cle Elum it was looking pretty good. We took exit 101 at Thorp and followed the directions to the trailhead. Right at the exit, right on Cove Road in about 2 miles, and then follow Cover Road to th end. 95 miles in about 90 minutes from Bellevue.

I was very surprised to see we were the 23rd car in the lot. It was only 8:50 am when we started out so this is one popular trailhead. Mostly blue sky overhead though it was cloudy to the north. The ridge route was clearly visible near the end of our drive. We started out on the old road and soon took a switchback right that led to the top of the ridge. Coming down we followed the ridge all the way to the bottom. The right turn just after crossing the now dry drainage creek bed was easy to miss.

The Westberg trail does not bother with switchbacks. The ridge is fairly wide and the track goes pretty much straight up. Mostly a steady grade with several short very steep sections. The trailhead is at 1876'. The Westberg Memorial site on the ridge top is at 3568' after about 2.25 miles of hiking. We were on the lookout for any early wildflowers. Grass widows were the first. First one then several more clumps. There is sagebrush along most of the route. Just a few green leaves starting to open up. That will change dramatically in a week or two. Soon we began to see the early birds who were already coming down. Speaking of birds, there were a lot of bird calls going on much of the day.

Buttercups appeared in numerous small patches. They were probably the most prolific wildflowers of the day. Janet wondered if we would see any yellow bells and a few minutes later there they were. We even saw a few bluebells on the hike to the Memorial. I found my new Olympus E-PM2 did a fine job on manual focus. I had less blurry close up flower shots than with my point and shoot. Also helping was the lack of wind. The forecast was for 5-15 mph and on the ridge it is often worse. We had very little wind all day long. With the sunshine and lack of wind we were quickly down to short sleeves. Janet went to zip off shorts by 9:00 am.

As we neared the top of Manastash Ridge the route turned right and began a more gentle ascent. We topped out at the memorial site at about 10:20 am. With the photo stops it took us 1.5 hours to hike up 2.25 miles. Not a very fast pace. This was more of a take photos and enjoy the views type of hike. There were quite a few folks at the memorial. We took a few photos then headed south to meet a road. This was a good spot for a food and water break. It's about another 2.75 miles to the UW Observatory site. It is all by road. We started down the road as it descended. More wildflowers along here. some violets and more of the flowers seen earlier. We also noticed a lot of bitterroot plants. Not close to blooming but it will be a very colorful display when they do. We also saw many dried balsamroot leaves from last year. this years plants are just coming up. There will be a lot of balsamroot when they bloom.

The road soon splits. We took the left fork that stays high. Just before the turn Janet noticed a rare flower. Shell flower, aka "floribunda kablamblam". A rare sighting indeed. The bright blue flowers seem to bloom all year round. I have a photo below. By now the blue sky to the south was becoming white. To the north the wind farms were periodically nearly disappearing in rain squalls. We were losing the sunshine but it we were on an island of dryness. The road had several ups and downs as we continued on. Down low there were evergreen trees in the wetter draws but few on the ridges. We now had more trees on the north side of the ridge top. The south is mostly bare except for sagebrush.

We stopped at the highpoint of our day. We were 4.03 miles from the car per my gps at an elevation of 3847'. The observatory was in sight for the first time. Still about a mile away. With the weather turning we chose to have lunch and then head back. On the hike back to the memorial site we saw one mountain bike rider and one hiker. For all the crowds the first 2.25 miles it was lonesome after that. Below us to the south was the road from Umptanum Road from Ellensburg to the Wenas Valley. The north side of Umtanum Ridge looked to be about snow free. There was one small patch of snow on the north side of Manastash below the road and that was it.

We arrived back at the Westberg Memorial at 12:37 pm. We had a few raindrops near the end of the road but that was all. We were going to sit west of the other hikers. I noticed a hiker with a black and a yellow dog. I wonder if that's John Porter? I went over to see and sure enough it was. I have run into John several times on the trail now. John has a hiking/climbing site as well called One Hike A Week though we seems to be getting out far more often now. We talked for about 30 minutes and then it was time to head down. Much less time taking photos led to a quicker time. By 2:15 pm we were back at the car. There were still 20 cars in the lot.

Drizzle began a few minutes into the drive home. It soon became light rain. By the time we reached I-90 it was steady rain. It continued most all the way home. I always enjoy getting in a dry hike on a day when it rained all day at home. This was a prime example. Their were not a lot of wildflowers out yet. We did have a good sampling of early flowers. In two to four weeks the route should be a riot of color. With the easy access both driving and hiking I may have to go back again this year. Janet and I had a great time. Always nice to get in a brand new trail.

I have posted 30 annotated photos on my website located at Go to "Trips -2014" on the left margin.
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Manastash Ridge, Westberg Trail — Apr 05, 2014 — Putz-in-Boots
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Ick, Ick, Ick. Early in the week the forecast looked wet everywhere. Late in the week the only promi...
Ick, Ick, Ick. Early in the week the forecast looked wet everywhere. Late in the week the only promising area looked like someplace around Ellensburg. AlanB had recently posed a couple of photos of Manastash Ridge with flowers...hmmm...

I pinged Jim to see if he was interested. He waffled like an Eggo waffle at first...suspicious of the weather. Then, late Friday night..."I'm in". Good!

We met at the SE 8th P&R and began the soaking wet drive over Snoqualmie Pass. Yikes was it raining. We sure hoped the forecast was going to hold. Sure enough...just east of the crest the sky looked brighter. By Easton blue sun breaks were opening up. This was looking promising. We'd got an early start (7:10am meet time at the P&R) because the forecast did say light rain was going to move in late morning and into the afternoon.

We were the 22nd car to park at the wide spot at the end of Cove Road. This looked to be a popular trailhead. Runners? Mtn bikers? Other hikers???

We were headed up the trail (Westberg Trail TH 1876') up the drainage by about 8:50am. The trail crosses a large drainage over a couple of planks, we headed up the drainage and then before the first sharp turn in the trail we followed a steep boot path/trail up to the top of the rib on the north side of Manastash Ridge (.6mi, 2208'). The rib is nearly flat in some spots and there are short stretches where the "trail" is steep. We reached the top of the ridge (2.25mi, 3568') and wow...the sun was out, the wind was minimal and best of all...we'd already seen some flowers. At this junction there is a series of several (many) memorials. We'd thought there would be just the one (Westberg Memorial) but there were at least a half dozen and a large pile of stones looks like it's become a sort of memorial to locals who have passed.

We stepped aside and continued up to the first highpoint where we dropped out packs to get some snacks. Still, even on top of the ridge, the wind was minimal. The day was already turning out better than expected. The trail/4WD road continued westward with several moderate ups and downs along the way. We stopped at about 4.07mi (3847') for a proper lunch and we watched as minor squalls moved in and over Ellensburg. Several of the squalls obscured the wind farm towers. Looking further to the west we could see dark clouds over the observatory which were slowly making their way east. Rain was was just a matter of when. We finally packed up and headed back down.

The "trail" is really a series of multiple use trails (old roads, mountain bike trails, hiker trails, etc.

Several early wildflowers were out...buttercups, yellow bells, grass widows, spring beauty, violets, and bluebells.

At this point, the snow is gone from the ridge.

Stats: 7.88mi, 2490' gain (round trip)

More photos here:[…]/manastash_ridge_tr.html
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Mount Clifty Ridge, Manastash Ridge, North Ridge, Cle Elum Ridge — Sep 15, 2013 — Jeb
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Water on trail
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The first time I made an attempt on Lookout Mountain and Mount Clifty the weather was similar to tod...
The first time I made an attempt on Lookout Mountain and Mount Clifty the weather was similar to today's, and I turned back after only a few miles when my "waterproof" gear failed me. With a fresh nikwax treatment I was feeling much more confident as Colin and I left the gate below Hicks Butte under gray skies. At the junction for Trail 1334, we left road 4510 for Trail 1326.

Shortly after we passed Trail 1377.2, the rising Sun brought a deep red glow to the clouds and mist over the North Fork Taneum Valley. As we continued along the ridge top, the light pouring in from the east turned orange and then brilliant gold. A heavy wind hit us from the west and Lookout Mountain emerged from the clouds just before we left the trail for the summit.

At the top we found the most pristine benchmark I've ever seen. Colin dug up a small summit register in a film canister from under a pile of rocks. There were only a handful of entries since it was placed in August 2005, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few visitors missed it over the years. We took a rest and adjusted gear in a patch of trees below the summit while sporadic rain and clouds came and went. At one point we saw some hail and a few snowflakes.

We rejoined the trail and as we approached Windy Pass, Mount Clifty became visible, with only the true summit still obscured by clouds. The pass lived up to its name, at the saddle it was so loud that we could barely hear the pair on motorcycles on their way up Taneum Valley. We discussed our planned destinations and went our separate ways. These would be the first of about 15 motorcyclists we passed throughout the day.

We turned left a half mile west of Windy Pass, staying on Trail 1326. At the next junction 0.7 miles later we took Trail 1388, heading Southwest above an isolated patch of exposed cliff bands which we spotted earlier from Lookout Mountain. The next mile was the only muddy section of trail until we reached a large campsite at the North end of Trail 947. The rain let up as we took another short rest before the final leg of our outward journey.

Somehow we missed the next turn but a bootpath just past it and a bit of bushwhacking got us onto Trail 1321.1, which passes a few feet below the summit. If there is a benchmark or a register on Mount Clifty, I couldn't find either but there is a nice steel plaque and a pvc mailbox attached to the summit block. Inside was a single piece of laminated paper for something called "Summit the District".

We sat on the west side of the ridge out of the heavy wind and got a few glimpses of sun and the surrounding peaks as the clouds lifted around us. Snow was visible on Mount Stuart and the Enchantments through holes in the clouds.

On the way back we continued North on Trail 1321.1 then turned right onto 1321. When we returned to Windy Pass the rain returned with us and didn't stop until we were driving back through North Bend. Seconds after we unloaded at the truck, it started raining buckets.

9 hours car to car
14 miles round trip
5200' elevation gain

More pics and route map soon to come @[…]-and-mount-clifty-9-22.html
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Manastash Ridge — Apr 21, 2012 — randy4
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: No water source
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This was a warm and sunny day in desolate country. Sage and bitterbrush abound. Took Umtanum Road we...
This was a warm and sunny day in desolate country. Sage and bitterbrush abound. Took Umtanum Road west from Ellensburg, following south and up into Manastash Ridge via Shushuskin Canyon. Turned left (east) onto the Old Durr Road (see photo). Durr is dirt but OK for my little Honda for a ways. About 1.25 mi. after the turn onto Durr is a parking lot (see sign) for which a Discover WA permit is "required." I went a quarter mile further south, parked by the side of the road and set off cross-country to the SW. Walking was relatively easy; rocky with plenty of sage brush, some scattered wildflowers (it's before peak season at this time). Eventually made it to the knoll marked 2801' on my old USGS 15 min. quadrangle map ("Ellensburg").
The view into the Yakima River Canyon and out over the Kittitas Valley (with many wind mills in the far distance) was super.
DRAWBACK on this day: Saturday, and there were many people out shooting guns, which I found a bit unnerving. They parked along the Durr Road north of Umtanum Creek, very near to where I parked. I heard (and later saw) handguns, rifles, shotguns, and a machine gun (!). Approaching my car I called out and waved at two shooters to be sure they saw me before I passed behind their target mound. They immediately gave an "all cleared" holler back, but at that point I couldn't wait to get outta there! A positive note-- the guns scared out a coyote which I watched warily remove itself from the area.
Recommendation for next time: Take the trail from the Yakima River that goes over the footbridge and head west from there up Umtanum Creek.
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Yakima River Canyon, Manastash Ridge — Oct 07, 2011 — mOuNtAiNeEr51
Day hike
Issues: No water source
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Started on that steep trail that leads up that 2600ft. hill near the north entrance of the canyon. O...
Started on that steep trail that leads up that 2600ft. hill near the north entrance of the canyon. Only took 35 minutes to get to the top counting photo breaks. Views get better and better with every foot of elevation gained. Signed the register at the top of the hill and enjoyed the views.

But I wanted more, and fixed my eyes on the high hill with the communications towers on it to the east. That is the hill that is above I-82 to the SE of Ellensburg. I've been wanting to hike up that hill, and now was my chance! So on I went. I soon found myself walking on an old track next to a barb wired fence. When the fence crosses the track, you'll want to get to the other side of the fence and remain on the track. Then keep following the crest of the ridge all the way to the top! Great views along the entire route.

I did run into a rattlesnake on the trail. Almost walked over it but saw it just in time. It also saw me, and began to rattle and hiss. So of course I acted promptly by getting my camera out to take pictures. Then I simply walked around it, staying several feet away. Anyways, this is prime rattlesnake territory, so be prepared.

It was also VERY windy up there! And I mean constant fast wind that did not let up! So make sure to dress accordingly.
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manastash ridge hikingbert.jpg
Manastash Ridge (#1388)
Eastern Washington
Mountain views

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