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Yakima Skyline Ridge / Rim

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The L. T. Murray State Wildlife Recreation Area offers some of the best desert hiking in the state, and this far-eastern edge of the preserve boasts the best of the best.

Unmatched desert wildflowers bless the dry brown hills with vibrant colors. You'll also find an array of birds and animals--swallows, swifts, bluebirds, chukars, quails, magpies, partridges, hawks, and eagles grace the sky while deer, elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes, rock chucks (marmots), badgers, hares, and an army of other small mammals roam the desert floor.

While an official trail leads up a broad ravine from the trailhead, a better hiking option is to park 0.5 mile short of the trailhead area and climb the open grass slopes toward the ridge top to experience the desert environment more directly. This route puts you among the plants and animals--it's literally a stroll in a wild garden. What's more, you'll find it impossible to get lost doing this. The open terrain and gentle slope ensure that the road and your vehicle are in sight for the entire first mile of your trek to the ridge top. Once at the top of the slope, you'll notice the far side of the ridge drops off in a steep cliff down to the Yakima River. By turning left and following this rim, you'll soon intercept the official trail, which hugs the rim, keeping the river far below always in sight. Journey out as far as you like before returning. (You can also head south on the trail along the rim.)

As the flowers color the landscape, they also perfume the air. Sage provides a constant, steady background on the wind, but as the warm sun heats the new plant growth, an intoxicating blend of scents awaits you. The air itself becomes a veritable stew of aromas as the ever-present sage is joined by the pungent odors wafting from the leaves of wild parsleys and onions. Through it all swirls the sweet aroma of new grasses and blooming flowers.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle, drive east on Interstate 90 to exit 110 and Interstate 82. Drive I-82 to the Selah/Canyon Road exit 26. Turn right off the exit and immediately turn left onto Harrison Road and drive 1.9 miles southwest before turning right onto Wenas Road. Continue 2.8 miles to a Y junction (near a rural fire station). Stay right (straight ahead on Gibson Road). In 0.3 mile after turning onto Gibson Road, turn right on Buffalo Road, where the pavement ends and the L. T. Murray State Wildlife Recreation Area begins. Turn left into a large parking area surrounded by an elk drift fence. Park here or drive through the gate (close it behind you) and proceed up a dirt track another 1.5 miles to the official trailhead. Start walking toward the rim from anywhere between the two parking areas. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife permit required.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 70 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Yakima Skyline Ridge / Rim — Apr 18, 2014 — Yakima Ed
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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The wildflowers are out on the Yakima Skyline Ridge/Rim Trail! Lots of balsam root, lupine and assor...
The wildflowers are out on the Yakima Skyline Ridge/Rim Trail! Lots of balsam root, lupine and assorted others. I hiked the "old approach" accessing the L.T. Murray DNR from the south at the end of Buffalo Road north of Selah. Beautiful weather, blue skies, great views up and down Yakima River Canyon. I'd avoid the trail this weekend (April 19-20). Rainshadow Running is holding a 50K/25K trail run so you'd be dodging runners. The 18th was great! Had the trail to myself. Hiked to Gracie Point and back. Beautiful!
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Yakima Skyline Ridge / Rim — Apr 13, 2014 — Yasobara
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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My wife and I hiked Yakima Skyline Rim. The dirt road up to the trail head was the worst road we hav...
My wife and I hiked Yakima Skyline Rim. The dirt road up to the trail head was the worst road we have driven, but our trusty Forester got us without a problem. We followed the route featured in the WTA hiking guide and made a loop of 4 miles with 1000 feet elevation gain. Wildflowers were in bloom. Mt Adams and Mt Rainier were visible most of the time. I guess now is the best time of the year to visit this part of Eastern Washington. It is not too cold, not too hot, wildflowers are in bloom. We did not encounter a rattlesnake. http://alltrails.com/tracks/yakima-skyline-rim-4-13-2014
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Yakima Skyline Ridge / Rim — Apr 06, 2014 — Walksalot
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: No water source
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Sun and guns - be prepared for both. There's an informal shooting range on the 4x4 part of the t...
Sun and guns - be prepared for both.

There's an informal shooting range on the 4x4 part of the trail, and on Sunday, there were four people shooting semiautomatic rifles southeast. If you can get past that (mentally), you get peace and quiet in the gully portion of the trail. Unfortunately, the sound of gunshots returns at the rim of the canyon, echoing off the hills.

It's been dry out here, so the wildflowers are sparse and seem to be almost bloomed out. There's absolutely no water on the trail (except one full trough for the horses). It's still beautiful - such a different landscape from the usual mountains. Strange fuzzy beetles frequented the early part of the trail. Sagebrush infuses portions of the trail with a scent like incense from an old church.

This was my first crack at breaking in a new pair of boots. I had to bid farewell to a trusty pair of boots last year (for the full description, check out this trail report from 2013: http://www.wta.org/[…]/trip_report.2013-09-04.8779504542), and after a failed flirtation with a different brand, it was time to go back to the same make, new model. This is a good place to try out a new pair. Mostly easy trail, but dusty as can be - one trek and no more shiny boot syndrome.
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Yakima Skyline Ridge / Rim — Mar 23, 2014 — Maura
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: No water source
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For a full report and more photos check out our blog! http://bobbyandmaura.com/hikes/yakima-skyline-...
For a full report and more photos check out our blog! http://bobbyandmaura.com/hikes/yakima-skyline-rim

We went in search of wildflowers and were a bit early… We found a couple but were disappointed that there weren't more.

The road in was in really rough shape and is one of our top contenders for worst road traveled on to get to a hike. There is a bridge over the creek now, so ignore when the guidebook, 100 Classic Hikes in WA, warns of a stream crossing.

We did encounter a few dirt bikers along the trail but they were very polite and considerate.

The top of Wenas Peak is completely trashed. There are huge piles of broken glass so be sure to keep your dogs close and on leash to prevent paw injuries.

Nice easy hike to do while 6 months pregnant, if you can survive the 7 mile rough drive in!
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Yakima Skyline Ridge / Rim — Mar 13, 2014 — Mountain Lover
Day hike
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Warmer temps, clear skies, no people. Some green vegetation is starting to show. Desert parsley ju...
Warmer temps, clear skies, no people. Some green vegetation is starting to show. Desert parsley just starting to come up. One buttercup and two yellow bell flowers. Sagebrush is starting to green up.
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ysr.jpg
Yakima Skyline Ridge. Photo by Darren.
Location
Eastern Washington -- Yakima
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1000 ft
Features
Rivers
Wildflowers/Meadows
Wildlife
User info
Discover Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Yakima

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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