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Black Canyon

Central Washington > Yakima
46.8507, -120.7011 Map & Directions
Length
8.0 miles of trails
Elevation Gain
1700 feet
Highest Point
4224 feet
The canyon is recovering from a 2020 wildfire. Photo by David Hagen. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Wildlife
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

On this hike you’ll experience the renewal of life after a devastating fire as you climb a canyon through bunch grasses, wildflowers and regenerating stands of aspen to panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the distant Cascades. Continue reading

Rating
4.27 out of 5

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Hiking Black Canyon

In September 2020 the Evans Canyon fire swept up Black Canyon. The combination of high winds and updraft created an inferno that torched virtually all of the vegetation. Many find the devastation depressing, but if you can see the canyon as it is now, not compared to what it was, you can find beauty even in the devastation as well as in the regeneration of life.

From the Wenas Road, walk or drive the Black Canyon Road to a large berm at the mouth of the canyon. Cross the berm and continue up the road. The grade is fairly steep at first, climbing between towering sagebrush hillsides studded with basalt cliffs and outcrops. Much of the vegetation is coming back, but there are still black areas where the soil was completely burned. Eventually the trail levels out somewhat and goes beside a long grove of aspen. Most of the mature trees were killed in the fire, but their bases are surrounded by the suckers of new trees. 

In 1.5 miles the road splits. The left-hand fork climbs steeply through open shrub-steppe to the crest of Umtanum Ridge in about a mile. The right-hand fork climbs moderately through blackened pine forest and shrub-steppe meadows, reaching the ridgetop in 2 miles. From the ridge crest the views stretch north to the Stuarts, west to Mount Rainier, and south across the Wenas Valley and Mount Cleman to Mount Adams. For even more panoramic views from the end of the right-hand fork, climb the ridgetop road 0.5 mile to Point 4224.

SEASONAL TIP: Carry all the water you need, and as the weather warms up be alert for ticks and rattlesnakes, especially if you venture off-trail. 

Hike Description Written by
David Hagen, WTA Correspondent

Black Canyon

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.8507, -120.7011 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From I-90 at Ellensburg, take exit 109. Head north on Canyon Road for 0.7 mile then turn left at Umptanum Road. Follow Umptanum Road for 18.4 miles until it bears left and becomes Wenas Road. Follow Wenas Road for 3.9 miles to Black Canyon Road on the left. Park here or drive the road (you’ll need high clearance) 0.5 miles to an elk fence or on another 0.8 miles to the mouth of the canyon. There are no restroom facilities.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Central Washington > Yakima

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wenas Wildlife Area

Guidebooks & Maps

Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Yakima

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Black Canyon

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