Hike a six-mile horseshoe loop up through the bluffs and along the north side of Crab Creek. In spring, you'll be accompanied by a profusion of wildflowers, but look out for ticks!
Most people who know this area call it "Goose Butte", named after a big goose spotted on the cliff above the caves back in the 1990s when the Bureau of Land Management acquired the land. The bottomland was once farmed at the turn of the century and there were a number of old homesteads on either side of the creek, but most are not visible now. You might spot an apple tree or two that were are offshoots from the original apple trees planted by the homesteaders.
Nearby Rocky Ford (described in Dan Nelson's Desert Hikes book) is about 5.5 miles to the west, off Rocky Ford Road. This large BLM parcel can be accessed off Hills Road to the east or from Rocky Ford Road to the west.
However, Goose Butte offers equally scenic prairie wandering, and boasts a large parking area to boot. To do this route, park on the east end of the lot and look for a two track that leads through a pass gate east of the first cave.
Follow this two track northwest up to the bluff, then head west for 1.1 miles. At this point, look for a fainter two track diverging off to the southwest, down the slope. At 1.3 miles, you’ll find an historic rock house, built in 1917 (look for the inscription on the east outside wall). Then continue hiking downhill following a livestock path all the way down to Crab Creek.
Songbirds, waterfowl, and hawks dip and sing in the air as you make your way along the narrow path. At your feet, look for buttercups and bitterroot, among many other types of wildflower.
From this point, you’ll be at 1.7 miles and can loop back along Crab Creek to the parking area for a total of 3 miles. A more desirable route, if you have time, is to continue hiking along Crab Creek heading west for another mile or two.
WTA Pro Tip: Crab Creek cannot be crossed safety in the spring months, but later in the summer or the fall it can be crossed in several areas. If you feel like you can do it safely, explore the lands on the south side of the creek and even hike all the way to Rocky Ford for a nice long 10 or 12 mile loop hike.
Hiking Goose Butte
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.3008, -118.2523 Open in Google Maps