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Indian Dan State Wildlife Refuge

North Cascades > Methow/Sawtooth
48.1117, -119.8671 Map & Directions
3.0 miles, (type not yet set)
Elevation Gain
200 feet
Highest Point
1,700 feet
Photo courtesy austineats. Full-size image
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Good for kids
  • Lakes
  • Dogs allowed on leash

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

Much of the trails in this area follow old roads and Jeep roads around the area. It's an excellent area to bring dogs (on-leash) and apart from some blowdowns, is a very easy trail to follow with a low grade. Continue reading

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Hiking Indian Dan State Wildlife Refuge

The Indian Dan Canyon Unit is part of a larger Wildlife Management area in the Columbia River Basin, featuring the shrub steppe landscape. Hiking along the old ranch road from the trailhead winds easily up the narrowing draw in a steep hillside. Along the way are classic skeletal remains of early 20th century farming equipment.

As you ascend the draw you will pass three increasingly smaller lakes. Though natural, their size is enhanced with earthen dams. Today they are vital to wildlife in the area. Numerous bird species, including raptors, grouse, California quail, and much waterfowl may be viewed here. Despite the very dry climate water plays an important role in this community. The lakes and their adjacent riparian zones are critical to most animal species in the area. Evidence of white tail deer, coyotes, and others abound if you look about. At one and one half miles the highest lake is reached, a perfect place for rest and reflection. Other than the local fauna you will likely have this place to yourself. Be sure to note the curious geologic features on your way out. The right (southern) side of the canyon has numerous plateaus. They are so uniformly flat that they appear to be man made. As many as eight of these flat steps ascend the steep hillside. Water flows from the ice-age and Missoula Floods events left these "bathtub rings". Equally impressive are the scattered basalt "haystacks" which appear to be outcrops of lava flows. In reality these are glacial erratics broken off much larger, older lava flows and deposited here by the Okanogan lobe of the last ice-age thirteen thousand years ago!

Early spring can be a good time to visit here as flowers flourish and the trees bud out. Views of the Columbia River and the Waterville Plateau are dramatic. When you've satiated your curiosity here there are 6 more shrub steppe units to visit!

WTA Pro Tip: This wildlife area borders several private properties. Please be aware of the recreation area boundaries if you plan on visiting the area and respect private land owners.

Hike Description Written by
Austin Smith, WTA Correspondent

Indian Dan State Wildlife Refuge

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.1117, -119.8671 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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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

Travel north from Pateros, Washington on highway 97. At roughly 4 miles turn left onto signed, Indian Dan Canyon Road. This is well paved and heavily used road by trucks serving the orchards in the area. At one mile this road turns to a well graded gravel road. At roughly 1.2 miles from the pavement, stay left at a fork onto Getz Road.

This road descends as the road you had been on ascends. Access to cross country travel is where ever you'd like to make it. The trailhead is between the first two lakes approximately a half mile past the fork in the road. The road dead ends at the trailhead.

More Hike Details


North Cascades > Methow/Sawtooth

Washington State Department of National Resources

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Indian Dan State Wildlife Refuge

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