A Guide to Ellensburg's Parks & Trails
Studies have shown that taking in the fresh air and sunshine of the great outdoors is one of the most beneficial ways to achieve peace of mind, relaxation, rejuvenation, and to connect with loved ones. So, pack your bags and really get away from it all with an excursion to Ellensburg, a place full of green spaces that’ll give you ample room to stretch your legs and breathe in some fresh air! Enjoy a change in scenery and get out to explore these Ellensburg parks and trails.
The city of Ellensburg features over 20 parks, which include over 230 acres of developed regional, community, neighborhood, and pocket parks. These parks feature a number of amenities ranging from athletic fields to walking trails to ponds, providing residents and visitors with a variety of passive and active recreational opportunities.
Helen McCabe Park & Interpretive Trail
This park was established in 1967, however, it was in 1977 that the park was dedicated to the memory of Helen McCabe, a well-known professor of Recreation at Central Washington University. The area had gone a long time without renovations until the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) took on improving the park in 2008. Updates since then have included fishing access points to the pond and a trail system. Over 10,000 plants and trees have been added as well. With these improvements, Helen McCabe Park is now an ideal place to enjoy a variety of activities; bring a date for an unforgettable picnic, walk your dog, or enjoy a leisurely day of fishing. The interpretive trail loops around McCabe Pond, and you can find educational brochures at the self-serve information bulletin board located at the trailhead.
Irene Rinehart Park
Irene Rinehart Park offers about 115 acres of lush green regional park along the edges of the Yakima River. This park complements the quaintness of the city of Ellensburg while providing its own charm with the flowing river, creeks, an abundance of wildlife and footpaths. The park also offers an easy trail with family-friendly amenities.
Olmstead Place Historical State Park
Olmstead Place Historical State Park is across the area, on the eastern side of town, and offers a 221-acre day-use park on an original 1875 pioneer homestead. It features one mile of hiking, beautiful gardens, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
Reed Park sits upon Craig’s Hill above the Ellensburg Rodeo Arena and provides a panoramic bird’s-eye view of Ellensburg, the Kittitas County Fairgrounds, Central Washington University, the Kittitas Valley, and the Stuart Mountain Range. A local favorite, this Ellensburg viewpoint is easily accessible, making it perfect for bringing kids along. The park also has walking trails to explore and is a popular location for watching the sunset any time of year.
Warm, sunny days and endless forested trails make Ellensburg an outdoor enthusiast’s dream! There are many outdoor activities to be enjoyed throughout every season in Ellensburg, which is why more and more people are making their way over to enjoy the area’s trails for hiking, biking, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
An iconic scenic trail in the heart of Ellensburg, Manastash Ridge offers some pretty spectacular views of Ellensburg, overlooking the entire valley from the south ridge. The valley below offers astounding scenes of the agricultural land surrounding Ellensburg, and the rugged mountains off in the distance make for a gorgeous photo op. Hike up to the ridge early enough in the morning and you might catch the Ellensburg fog sitting overtop, a beautiful sight that gives the appearance of the mountains rising from the clouds. Add in the striking colors of the sunrise and you’re in for a wonderful start to the day.
Naneum Wilson Trail
Displaying the beauty of the valley from a different perspective, this area north of town offers a variety of opportunities for those with outdoor interests including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and off-roading. This is also a special place for rockhounds to search for Ellensburg Blue agates, the third rarest gemstone in the world!
Umtanum Creek Falls
Umtanum Creek Falls Trail is an Ellensburg classic that never fails to draw hikers back again and again to enjoy the scenic trek. This short, 3 miles out and back trail snakes through an enchanting forest of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine along the burbling Umtanum Creek to ultimately reveal a stunning 40-foot waterfall. As you make your way along the trail, look closely for wildflowers like yellow desert-parsley, bluebells, squaw currant, and bitterbrush, and listen to the different bird songs, using binoculars to spot bluebirds, woodpeckers and more. Identify the sweet fragrance of sagebrush, while keeping an eye out for bighorn sheep on nearby canyon walls. Soon enough, you’ll hear the rushing of water and arrive at the top of the picturesque waterfall, which cascades into a crystal-like pool surrounded on three sides by basalt walls. In the spring and summer months, hikers can take a rough trail down to admire the falls from the bottom. In the winter, however, it is safest to stay at the top and enjoy the view from above, minding your footing as you near the edge.