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Rocky Top and Cowiche Mountain

Central Washington

Rocky Top is an extensive system of interconnected mountain bike trails open to hikers. It offers innumerable out-and back and loop options though shrub-steppe on the flanks of Cowiche Mountain as well as a scenic ridge walk on a portion of the William O. Douglas Trail to the summit of the mountain and a connection with the Snow Mountain Ranch trail system. Continue reading

Location

Central Washington -- Yakima
Jump to Map & Directions

Length

20.0 miles of trails

Elevation

Gain: 1148 ft.
Highest Point: 2970 ft.

Rating

4.00 out of 5

  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Ridges/passes
  • Good for kids
  • Dogs allowed on leash

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

2/8/22: All trails at Rocky Top are temporarily closed to prevent permanent damage caused by hiking on muddy trails. They will reopen in the spring once they dry out.

Rocky Top lies between Cowiche Canyon and Snow Mountain Ranch. It offers an extensive network of 25 interconnected trails totaling 21 miles for mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians. The wide-open hillside has some of the best views in the Yakima Valley. Trails wind through shrub-steppe bunch grass, old growth sagebrush, and magnificent lithosols. In the spring the wildflower display is spectacular. The trail system connects to Snow Mtn Ranch along the ridgeline of Cowiche Mtn.

A glance at the trail system map at the entry kiosk will suggest any number of loop or out-and-back hikes. For a short 2-mile loop walk up Walk & Roll and return on Green Harvester and Wholly Moses. Add Orange Harvester and a descent of the Horse Trail to Green Harvester to make a loop of a little over 3 miles.

Perhaps the premier hike at Rocky Top is the 6.4 mile out and back ascent of Cowiche Mtn via the Horse Trail and the William O. Douglas Trail to Snow Mountain Ranch and a junction with both the Cowiche Mtn Trail West and the Cowiche Mtn Trail East. This is one of the nicest ridge-walks in the area. The views of the surrounding countryside and out to Mount Adams & Mount Rainier are panoramic and, in season there are wildflowers from top to bottom. For a longer hike you can add some of the trails in the Rocky Top and/or Snow Mountain Ranch systems. With a car-shuttle, a traverse of Cowiche Mountain from Rocky Top to Snow Mountain Ranch is possible.

Please note that these trails are on private property made available to the public thanks to Anderson Rock and Demolition Pits (the sights and sounds of which are never far away). The area is jointly managed by the Single Track Alliance of Yakima, the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy, and the William O. Douglas Trail Foundation. Please abide by right-of-way rules and be aware that you may be sharing the trail with mountain bikers.

There is no shade or water at Rocky Top, so come prepared and plan your visit accordingly. In the warmer months you’ll also need to be alert for rattlesnakes and ticks. In early spring the trail system is often closed for a few days when the trails are muddy. Please respect these closures.

Hike by WTA Correspondents
David Hagen

Rocky Top and Cowiche Mountain

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.6278, -120.6837 Open in Google Maps

Trailhead

Central Washington -- Yakima

Anderson Rock and Demolition Pits

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

http://www.SingleTrackAlliance.org

www.cowichecanyon.org

www.williamodouglastrail.org

Getting There

From SR 12 on the north side of Yakima, exit at 40th Avenue and proceed 1.5 miles south to Summitview Avenue. Turn right and drive 6.3 miles then turn left onto Rocky Top Road at the crest of the hill.  Travel 0.5 mile West to the parking lot ringed by basalt boulders. There is a portable restroom at the trailhead.  

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

2/8/22: All trails at Rocky Top are temporarily closed to prevent permanent damage caused by hiking on muddy trails. They will reopen in the spring once they dry out.

 

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Rocky Top and Cowiche Mountain

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