The scenic Crooked Creek Trail is entirely within the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness and can be accessed via a handful of other trails to enable backpacking loops within the Blue Mountains. The springs feeding Crooked Creek flow year-round making it a nice option even in the drier parts of summer.
On its north end, Crooked Creek is best accessed from the Mount Misery Trail at Indian Corral and on the South end at the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Wenaha River in Oregon. The mileage here is described beginning from its highest northern point in Washington at Indian Corral but is an excellent hike in either direction.
Campsites near the junction at Indian Corral are abundant and water is accessible from Dunlap Spring. Options to access the trail's start at Indian Corral include from the west or east via the Mount Misery Trail or from the north via the Panjab or Rattlesnake Trails.
From Indian Corral, Crooked Creek Trail follows Trout Creek then Third Creek south through quiet forest, dropping 3000 feet in elevation over the course of the first 9.4 miles before reaching Crooked Creek. The first few miles are hiked regularly but the trail declines in usage as you head deeper into the wilderness.
The paucity of humans has left the trail overgrown and sometimes difficult to follow in places but the rewards are bountiful in the form of wildlife and solitude. The canyon becomes airier and the tread improves near mile 11.8 as you pass a side trail to a large established campsite with access to Crooked Crook just before the junction with the Melton Creek Trail.
At 12.7 miles cross bridgeless First Creek which requires wet feet in the spring and early summer. On the south side of First Creek is a Forest Service cabin with spots to pitch a tent or two and at mile 13.2 pass the junction with the Three Forks Trail. The Three Forks trailhead provides the shortest access to Crooked Creek and in summer the Crooked Creek trail is often faint and overgrown with tall grass south of this junction as the Crooked Creek flood plain broadens.
At mile 14.2 pass the junction with the Packers Trail providing access to Smooth Ridge. As you near the border with Oregon the views broaden and you enter forest recovering from the Grizzly Bear Complex Fire that burned much of the Wenaha-Tucannon wilderness in 2015. Pleasant campsites can be found year-round in the flats near the Wenaha River Trail at mile 17. Fording Crooked Creek to access the upper Wenaha River or Smooth Ridge can be difficult in spring with swift waist deep water but mellows as summer progresses.
WTA Pro Tip: All or part of the Crooked Creek trail can be used to link up epic backpacking loops through the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness by linking it with the Wenaha River, Smooth Ridge, and Mount Misery trails.