May 19, 2012
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Steamboat Rock
- Region: Eastern Washington -- Inland NW
- Agency: Washington State Parks and Recreation
- Avg Rating: 4.22
- Why You Should Go Now
- Wildflowers blooming
- Be Aware Of
- No water source
As noted in Bauer & Nelson's Best Desert Hikes Washington (Mountaineers, 2004), the first 0.15 miles is a steep, rough, rocky ascent through a cleft. The trail then levels out and crosses a broad plateau or ledge, gaining some elevation before splitting into two forks going to two different bluffs. We went right to the easier, larger bluff, hoping to see the deer herd which lives there.
Once at the top, we circumambulated the edge of the bluff in a counterclockwise direction, first looking down on Steamboat Rock State Park below us with the inner waterways that surround the peninsula. We walked north to overlook the beautiful, intricate waterways at the north end of Banks Lake. At about that point, we saw some pinkish flowers in clusters (buckwheat?), some right at the edge, and also a rock rose.
We continued around the back (west) side of the plateau, which does not have a well defined edge but rolls away in grassy undulations. The trail was very faint on this side. We saw two marmots on a rock, and we had a distant view of the main part of Banks Lake to the west.
We thought we had gone far enough to be near the starting point of the loop, so Slow Loris checked his GPS. He had not set a location point when we reached the top, but he had set a lap, and the GPS showed that, so we followed the arrow on the GPS through a trail which at this point was so faint that it was no more than a suggestion of matted grass, continuing until the arrow on the GPS converged with the number 1 marking the lap change.
The descent was slow, difficult, and harrowing, not only at the initial 0.15 miles, but at several stretches of trail from the very beginning of the descent. These stretches were steep, and the trail was littered with loose gravel on powdery dirt. We were glad we had our poles. In places we scooted in a sitting position, always watching for rattlesnakes; younger hikers seemed to have little trouble, however!
We enjoyed the views from the top but decided that the descent was too dangerous. We had been curious about this hike in the past and are glad we did it this one time but have decided not to do it again.