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Trip Report

Umtanum Creek Canyon, Umtanum Ridge Crest

Central Washington

Trip Report By

Hiked Apr 9, 2009

Type of Hike

Day hike
April 9, 2009: Umtanum Ridge and Umtanum Canyon Last year I had wandered the rolling hills of Umtanum Ridge after accessing it from the North Trailhead; that approach had involved a hellish (though scenic) drive on Durr Road and I had vowed never to try that again. This time I decided to approach Umtanum Ridge from the Umtanum Creek Canyon access. A 2hr drive had me on the trail at 8:30am. After crossing the suspension bridge over the Yakima River and then the railroad tracks just adjacent, I quickly took a left to enter the first side canyon on the left. Lovely, scented desert plant life surrounded me and crisp conditions heralded the start of a beautiful day. The way up the narrow canyon was on the stiffish side, but rugged cliffs kept my attention on the scenery rather than the exertion. A pretty creek was my companion, with tiny, lush basins providing more interest. Eventually, things began to open up and the rolling, tumbling hills of Umtanum Ridge began to appear. Puff-ball clouds dotted a blue sky, keeping things cool, by periodically shielding me from the warming sun. There wasn't much of a flower-show, except for one splash of yellow about two-thirds of the way up. The remaining third was steep, steep, steep. The reward was the gorgeous, scalloped Umtanum Ridge crest. I decided to head right to the nearby 3,630ft high point of Umtanum Ridge, where I decompressed, had lunch and enjoyed the sights and music from birdsong. The descent was relatively quick, since I also wanted to explore the Umtanum Creek Canyon. As I entered the canyon, my progress ground to a standstill as a lovely cottonwood grove enticed me with its charms. This place must be fantastic in autumn, but the gleaming white trunks still took my breath away. I finally managed to tear myself away and resumed onward progress. About a mile in, I crossed Umtanum Creek on partially submerged logs. The creek was a rushing, chattering companion and provided constant entertainment: a beaver dam here, a limpid pool there. Towering basalt cliffs rose impressively on either side. Around 2.5mi into the canyon I reached my turn-around point. As I sped back to my car I finally began to encounter other hikers...perfectly timed. Additional photos: Cumulative stats: - Distance: 12mi - Elevation gain: 2,580ft - Hiking time: 6.5hrs



GaliWalker - the white barked trees you photographed were aspens, not cottonwoods. Cottonwoods are the larger trees with the furrowed bark. And yes, Umtanum Canyon is spectacular at the end of Oct with the red-yellow aspens and golden cottonwoods. Mytho-man

Posted by:

mytho-man on Apr 10, 2009 07:13 PM


Oh, thanks for the correction. I initially thought they were aspens, but had not read any reference to aspens in various guidebooks, so settled on cottonwoods. Yes, this place might even be better to visit in autumn, than a month or so from now with the flowers.

Posted by:

GaliWalker on Apr 10, 2009 08:03 PM