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Trip Report

Goose Butte

Eastern Washington

Trip Report By

Hiked Mar 19, 2016

Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Trail in good condition

Road

Road suitable for all vehicles

Bugs

No bugs

Snow

Snow free
Goose Butte Hike (AKA Rocky Ford-Crab Creek) We picked a gorgeous sunny spring day to hike this little gem. Along with my dog and two friends, we made it a semi loop hike totaling 6 miles up through the bluffs and then along the north side of bank-full Crab Creek. Buttercups were blooming and bitterroot was sprouting, and saw a single yellow bell, but imagine there will be many more coming up in the next few weeks. We were the only humans hiking the trail, but the meadowlarks, cliff swallows, a few ducks, red tail hawks, red winged blackbirds, and ducks made for great company. No ticks observed and the trails are in good shape (thanks to cows and coyotes!) The valley has been known to flood after heavy snow/rain winters, but this usually resides by mid-March. I’ve added a few updates below on the hike, and as this appears to be the first trip report for it, and I thought it’d be good to pass this information along. 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 bottom land 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. I won’t spoil the hike with too much detail, as its fun discovering things and just taking in the view. Hope you enjoy the hike and don’t forget to bring along plenty of water and of course your dogs! Note/Update on this hike: This hike is listed in Bauer and Nelson’s “Desert Hikes of Washington” as “Rocky Ford – Crab Creek”. However, it is commonly known to the BLM as “Goose Butte”. Rocky Ford is about 5.5 miles to the west, off Rocky Ford Road. This large BLM parcel can be accessed on either side, off Hills Road to the east (as described in Desert Hikes) or from Rocky Ford Road to the west. To get to Goose Butte, follow the Desert Hikes driving directions, but instead of parking on the right of Hills Road (sometimes shown as Harrington-Tokio Road), turn left (west) and drive into the “new” large BLM parking lot located north of Crab Creek and across from the “old” parking area. You can park anywhere in this large parking area, but if you choose to hike the route we did, park on the east end 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. 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. Or, and I highly suggest this; continue hiking along Crab Creek heading west for another mile or two. Another option is to follow the trail described in the Desert Hikes book. Our total elevation gain for the 6 mile hike was 450 feet. 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 so, you can cross at any point you see safe, and 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. This hike is best done in the early spring, fall or early winter as the heat can be intense in the summer months. There is very little vegetation along this part of the creek – probably due to past flooding, so no need to worry about thorny Hawthorn trees or thick brush. It’s also a doggie paradise and offers great fly fishing opportunities. Also, check out the photos too see our route and the BLM land in this area.

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