Central Washington offers boundless outdoor activities for any dedicated resident and earnest visitor. The peaceful woodland trails and open ridges with incredible views are reason enough for any city slicker to make their way east to recreate in our warm, sunny region. Central Washington hikes are best experienced June through October.
5 miles RT | 46.7952, -120.4584
This trail might prove to be challenging for many with multiple inclines and full exposure on hot summer days, but the difficulty is worth making this trek. Wildflowers, flowing grass, a winding river and breathtaking 360 views of the valley. Near the trailhead is a monument dedicated to T.P. Jim, a historic local that encouraged local youth to practice outdoor recreation.
2.2- 3.7 miles RT 46.99259, -120.56599
Whether you wish to picnic, take a stroll, fish, bird-watch, run, bike or sit and find peace in the Yakima river flow, this easy trail offers a variety of activities, depending on your interest. The trail is accessible by two parking lots- Riverfront Park and Carey Lake (People’s Pond), and offers a public restroom and access to an off-leash dog park.
An area with a plethora of desert wildflowers such as cacti flowers, balsamroot and desert buckwheat, and full panoramas of the Columbia Basin. Wander down small trails like Bitterroot Trail and Bluebird Trail to be wowed by the powerful river, basalt rock, petrified wood, wildflowers and peeping bluebirds. A map will be helpful with these hikes and be aware of rattlesnakes.
4 miles RT | 46.9679, -120.6454
Choose your route to choose your experience up Manastash. Drive through beautiful country to the outskirts of Ellensburg to hit these trailheads. Try the Westburg Trail for constant views, sunshine and shorter mileage. Opt for Boy Scout Trail if you want forest coverage and to hear the calls of grouse, or pick Prater Trail for lupine, paintbrush and glimpses of wildlife. Each route leads to the same marked destination where a hiker can admire the Stuart range and record their Manastash conquer.
Ellensburg entrances: 47.1708, -120.8719, 47.01847, -120.57158
This epic trail offers several entrance points, but if you are in the central Washington area, we suggest beginning in Ellensburg or nearby, in Thorp. Take a stroll through history and see how far you get! Gravel covered and perfect for on-leash dog walking, or bicycling. 228 miles total from ID-WA Border to Rattlesnake Lake.
2 miles RT | 46.8973, -120.5039
This hike is perfect for a quick trip to see the beauty of the Yakima canyon and landscape of the valley with the Yakima River snaking through. The mileage is short, but the incline and switchbacks through colorful rock and desert flowers will have you catching your breath and taking in the sights. As there are many cliff areas along the way, we advise leashing up your furry friends. This trail is called Rattlesnake Dance for a reason, be mindful of snakes lounging out on warm rocks.
8.2 miles RT | 46.8554, -120.4833
Enter by crossing a historic swinging bridge and follow along the rushing creek. Maneuver through the colorful flora-filled canyon, observe the basalt cliffs, old apple trees and walnut trees, and be on the lookout for bighorn sheep. At one point in the hike you’ll hit an open field where you can follow an old trail to lilac trees and the remains of an old farmhouse.
At the end of this pine, Aspen, brush and wildflower-lined path is a 40-foot waterfall. Falling powerfully into a basalt bowl, you can admire the waterfall from above, or you can carefully make your way down to experience it at ground level. This trail is most enjoyed during the late spring, early summer months. If you’re lucky, you may meet a kaleidoscope of butterflies or sneak a peek of sheep on the surrounding hillsides.
Southwest of Ellensburg and Northwest of Selah
Along with the more popular trails, there are several lesser-known trails in this beautiful region that deserve some recognition, such as Black Canyon, Yakima Skyline, Hardy Canyon and Robinson Canyon- Ashley Canyon. These trails provide astonishing views, native plant-life and opportunities to see various wildlife. As these trails are less traveled, a hiker may have a more private experience with raw nature, but should be cautious of their surroundings. The use of a map is advised.
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