Umtanum Creek Canyon


9 a.m.


0d 2h 0m


4 miles


Sunny, clear 80 degrees.


On our way to northern Idaho, we stopped overnight at Big Pines Campground along the Yakima River Scenic Byway (Hwy 821 between Yakima and Ellensburg). Late in the afternoon, we scored what appeared to be a nice spot along the river bank:

Unfortunately the old-school diesel motor home in the next spot decided to run their generatorĀ  in the evening to power their AC. Strong diesel fumes and noise neutralized the beauty of the river. A few empty freight trains rattled by on the opposite side of the river. Attention-getting but nothing like our experience at Memaloose along the Columbia River.

The next morning we packed up early to squeeze in a hike in before continuing the drive to Coeur D’Alene. We turned in to the Umtanum Recreation Site and parked by the blue suspension bridge in the day-use area of the northern-most BLM campground in the Yakima River Canyon.

We crossed the swinging suspension bridge to access the Umantum Creek Canyon. A lone fly-fisherman plied his trade in the Yakima River below. The path crosses under train tracks and follows a year-round creek for three or four miles up the canyon, threading through and around stands of willow and young aspen. Three large California bighorn rams with heavy full curls grazed without concern a hundred yards away up the talus slope.

On the return trip, rattlesnake slid silently across the trail into the dried grass directly in front of us. Dang! Another good use for trekking poles which were still stowed away in our van. Unsure about how far the critter crawled, we ran/levitated VERY quickly past it.

This trail is also known as Site 16 of the “Sun and Sage Loops” in the Audubon Society’s Great Washington State Birding Trails. This easy out-and-back hike provided a nice stretch for our legs, best taken before the heat builds later in the day.


Washington Trails Association- Umtanum Creek Canyon

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