This mountain just outside the town of Richland is nice place for locals and visitors to recreate, with several trails for hiking, biking and equestrian. Views extend in every direction and include mountains as well as agricultural fields. The 574-acre recreation area was purchased in 2003 by Friends of Badger Mountain.
WTA helped the Friends of Badger Mountain build the Canyon Trail on Badger Mountain in 2005. It was WTA’s largest work party up to that time. The initial 18-inch wide trail was dug out by hand in one weekend.
Views from the summit extend in every direction and include the plains of Central Washington, the Columbia and Yakima Rivers, the Tri-Cities, Hanford Reach and the White Bluffs, as well as distant glimpses of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams.
From the parking lot, head up to the kiosk at the base of a small canyon. At the kiosk is a trail junction. The right branch will take you the long way back to your car via the 0.4 mile long Badger Flats Trail. For the Canyon Trail, take the left which will lead you up to the trailhead sign board. Here, you could go to the left and take the Sagebrush Trail or right for the Canyon Trail.
The Canyon Trail immediately climbs a steep section with the help of 64 steps. At the top of the steps, there is a junction. Taking the left will, again, connect you to the Sagebrush Trail. You can use this as an optional way to avoid taking the steps, but it adds 0.4 miles.
Continuing straight on the Canyon Trail through late wildflowers, sagebrush and bunchgrass. At 0.4 miles, there is a bench to rest on. At half a mile, you’ll be on an open ridge with great views of the Tri-Cities.
A little further along the ridge is the Lake Lewis monument. Lake Lewis was the gigantic temporary lake formed by the great Missoula Floods 11,000 years ago. During the Ice Age Floods 10 to 14 thousand years ago, this was about as the as high as the waters rose at 1,250 feet. See more about this in the history section below. Stand a moment and visualize the waves lapping at your feet while most everything in your gaze outward would have been deep under water.
The trail continues climbing, leaving the side ridge and heading up a long switchback leg to a stone bench at its corner. This makes a nice place to rest for a moment before you proceed to the summit.
At just past the one mile marker, there is a “hiker-only” sign where many hikers turn around. There are great views including Rattlesnake Mountain to the west, the Tri-Cities just in front and the Blue Mountains to the east. In clear weather, Mount Stuart can be seen as a triangular peak on the horizon to the northwest.
The trail continues up and to the left of the communication towers and then drops to connect up with the Skyline Trail. From the backside of the towers, there are great views to the east, south, and west. To the south, look across to the crest of the Horse Heaven Hills. North and east, all the Tri-Cites spread out below, and with binoculars, you can spot every landmark with minute accuracy. Beyond this, gaze into the Wallula Gap, halfway to Walla Walla and the Blue Mountains beyond. To the west, Candy Mountain and Red Mountain complete the string of the rattlesnake’s rattles, leading over to the much higher summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, brooding over the vast government reservation that it commands. Mount Hood, Adams, and Rainier can be seen on clear days.
You can continue east on the Skyline Trail, connecting with the Sagebrush Trail for a for a loop hike (follow the Trailhead Park Loop signs), or retrace your way down the Canyon Trail. Turning right at this junction will send you west along the Skyline Trail towards the Westgate parking lot off of Dallas Road and away from your start.
History: 11,000 years ago, an ice dam broke in the area we know as Montana, releasing a gigantic wall of water that tore south over the landscape until it was stopped by the mountains now named Horse Heaven Hills. This water filled the basin and became Lake Lewis, and Badger Mountain was surrounded water -- a temporary island. The lake stretched north at least as far as Lind, perhaps even to Ritzville – an unimaginable weight of water searching for an exit. Eventually the weight of the pent-up water broke through the barrier of the hills at the low point of Wallula, cutting the gap through the basalt that allowed the flood to continue its frantic rush to the sea. Lake Lewis drained in one to two weeks, geologists say.