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Hiking & Trails

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Fresh air, breathtaking views, and adventure abound! You don't have to be an expert outdoorsperson to enjoy the trails in Central Washington. Kittitas County is home to great outdoor escapes including trails that range from beginner to advanced and have varying in terrain, elevation, incline, and length.

For more information on the hikes and trails below, click the green Trail Guide button to be taken to the Washington Trails Association website for in-depth info by the people who frequent them! This is also a great place to find the status of the trails - whether they are currently open, closed, or under construction.

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Results: 1 - 12   of 12 results
Wild Horse Wind Farm (#787)
25901 Vantage Highway
Ellensburg, WA 98926
The Wild Horse Wind Farm, which sits atop the Whiskey Dick Mountain, is just a few miles from Ellensburg on high open range tops.  Built by Puget Sound Energy, it consists of one hundred and forty Nine wind turbines.  Wild Horse takes advantage of the region's strong, consistent winds and abundant sunshine to produce clean, renewable energy.

The visitor center and solar facility is open daily from April through November. On a clear day views of the entire valley are prevalent of the Kittitas Valley, Stewart Range to the Columbia Plateau to the east. The Renewable Energy Center is free and offers Wild Horse visitors a first-hand look at how energy can be made from the wind and the sun.

Paul Rogers Wildlife Refuge (#1187)
2400 Judge Ronald Road
Ellensburg, WA
Amenities: Bathrooms, picnic shelter, and trails
Approximately one mile from Ellensburg, this 19.8 acre park provides a diverse wildlife habitat to observe while walking on groomed trails and paths.
Yakima Rim Skyline Trail /Umptanum Ridge (#1207)
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Take Main Street south until it turns into Canyon Road. Turn right on to Umptanum Road (at the Subway & McDonalds) and follow for about 5 miles.  Turn left on to the unpaved, and historic Jacob Durr Road. Proceed across the high plateau and commence the steep, narrow, rough descent to the floor of Umptanum Canyon. At 4.1 miles from Umptanum Road is the ford of Umptanum Creek. A 3-mile climb, for a total 12.1 miles from Canyon road, culminates at the North Trailhead -- elevation 3375. A day hike out along the Umptanum Ridge from Jacob Durr Road is an easy picnic for children. Backpacking and mountain biking is also popular with cross-country skiing opportunities in the winter. Th e South Trailhead is about 10 miles from the Damman Elementary School.
Manastash Lake (#764)
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Tucked in the mile-high basalt plateau are many pretty meadows and even a few glacier-carved lakes such as Lost Lake and Manastash Lake.

The first mile or so the trail climbs steadily, but gently, through forested land. About 1.5 miles in, the trail reaches Lost Lake elevation. The trail then levels out for a while and continues climbing until descending to Manastash Lake. The trail is in good shape during the drier parts of the year, though eroded from motorized traffic.

From I-90 near Ellensburg, take exit 106. Follow the road north until you reach Umptantum Road and take a left at McDonalds. Follow Umptantum Rd. until you reach Manashtash Road. Turn right on Manastash Road. Follow this until it turns into Forest Road 31. As you approach Buck Meadows, 17 miles from Ellensburg, there will be a sign on your left for road 114, leading to the Manastash Lake trailhead parking lot. Northwest Forest Pass required. 
For more information click here.

Little Kachess Trail (#772)
Ellensburg, WA 99826
The trail follows along Lake Kachess, close to Snoqualmie Pass. It is also a great cross country ski trail in winter. It follows along a 9.2 miles trail round trip, with a gain of 1,000 feet and a lot of up and downs.

Driving Directions -- Follow I-90 to exit 62. Drive northwest 6 miles to Kachess Campground. The trailhead is at the north end of campground.
Irene Rinehart Riverfront Trail (#777)
Ellensburg, WA 98926
There are two options of exploration for this city park.  Immediately on your left when you pull into the park entrance there is a parking lot.  Park here to relax and enjoy the Yakima River.  There is an easy trail that follows along the river and will wrap around to the other side of Carey Lake.  This trail is used by cross-country skiers during the winter.  The second option is to drive straight at the park entrance on a narrow but paved road to the lawned park area along Carey Lake.  Here you may enjoy a peaceful picnic, wade or swim in the lake, take an inner tube out in the pond, or just enjoy a little sunbathing.  This is a great spot for all ages as well as for bird watching (check out the First Saturday Birdwalk at 8am each month) and biking. Other amenities include a boat landing, sand volleyball, picnic and barbecue facilities, hiking/biking trails, and grass areas.

Take Main Street South until it turns into Canyon Road. Take a left at Umptanum Road (there is a Subway, & McDonalds at this intersection.) After about a mile, the park entrance will be on the right.

Green Canyon / Naneum-Wilson Trail (#1246)
This region displays 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-road vehicles. For hiking, take Reecer Creek road west and north to the end of the county road and continue north on FS Road 35, climbing onto Table Mountain. At the end of the asphalt surface, go east on FS Road 3521 about 3 miles to Trail #1371. It crosses the road here, and there is no trailhead. The moderate trail is 6.5 miles in length. This is also a special place for rockhounders to search for the renowned Ellensburg blue agates. Please call Rock'n Tomahawk Ranch at 962-2403 for more information on rock-hounding in this area.

Umptanum Falls (#760)
A favorite low impact high desert trail is Umptanum Creek, located south of Ellensburg inside the Yakima Canyon. The trail is listed as an important bird area by the Washington State Audubon Society.

The Old Umptanum Stagecoach Route Drive to Yakima is a scenic sagebrush road that meanders up onto the foothills surrounding the southern boundary of the valley, which leads to the Umptanum Falls trailhead.

The smaller and hidden waterfall is a pleasant surprise in what is otherwise a desert area. The falls are surrounded on three sides by dark basalt formations where the water pours into the punch bowl 40 feet below. The trail continues around the basalt walls where you may hike down to its base. The Umptanum Ridge is just west of the trailhead to Umptanum Falls where cross-country skiing is available during the winter.

Park at the BLM's Umptanum Recreation Site and cross the river via the suspension bridge and follow the Umptanum Creek trail (4 miles RT) up the valley past beaver dams and old fruit trees that mark the sites of old homesteads. Or, you may climb cross-country to one or several of the high points along Umptanum Ridge (6 miles RT).

Umptanum Crest (#1242)
Ellensburg, WA 98926
A favorite low impact high desert trail is Umptanum Creek, located south of Ellensburg inside the Yakima Canyon. The trail is listed as an important bird area by the Washington State Audubon Society. Park at the BLM's Umptanum Recreation Site and cross the river via the suspension bridge and follow the Umptanum Creek trail (4 miles RT) up the valley past beaver dams and old fruit trees that mark the sites of old homesteads. Or, you may climb crosscountry to one or several of the high points along Umptanum Ridge (6 miles RT). 

Follow Main Street until it changes into Canyon Road. Continue south out of town where the road will lead into the Yakima Canyon (SR #821). Almost half way through the canyon there is the Umptanum Recreation Site on the right hand side. Turn in and park. A parking fee is required from May 15 -- September 15. 
Manastash Ridge (#775)
Ellensburg, WA 98926
This expert difficulty wildflower-rich hike is in the hills southwest of Ellensburg and has become popular for locals as well as visitors. This hike provides enough elevation gain to qualify as a workout, but wildflower enthusiasts will want to dawdle. The hike is considered difficult, however some trails are less steep than others. Manastash Ridge has several side trails. Stay to the right throughout your hike. Weather can fluctuate quickly, with much warmer and drier temperatures at the trailhead. It is a six-mile roundtrip hike from the trail head to the top and back.

There are two main trails to the top, the Westburg Trail, named after a popular Ellensburg coach and the Boy Scout Trail, accessed further to the west after hiking along an irrigation ditch. There is a log book at the top. The Manastash Observatory is located high on the south ridge and Buck Meadows is approximately 15 miles further up on Manastash Road where there are horse trails available for horseback riding. In winter, trails for cross-country skiing are available at the end of Cove Road.

From eastbound Interstate 90, exit 101 (Thorp Highway). Right off the exit, two miles, right on Cove Road, past two stop signs, parking is on the right just after the second stop sign.

L.T. Murray Wildlife Area (#776)
201 N Pearl St
Ellensburg, WA 98926
With over 50,000 acres of land, there are boundless recreational opportunities including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, sightseeing, picnicking, photography, ATV / Quad vehicle use (Green Dot road system), hunting and fishing, sledding and watching the annual elk feeding in winter. (Feed is generally put out at 8:00 a.m., but elk are visible throughout the day). The landscape rises from sagebrush steppe hillsides to dense stands of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir and is home to a large elk herd, mule deer, bear, spotted owls, northern goshawk, golden eagles, pileated woodpeckers, salmon, migratory and local birds, beaver, and other small mammals.

Take the Thorp Exit from Interstate 90 (exit 101); Turn left on the Thorp Highway, cross over I-90 and proceed about 3/4 mile to Thorp Cemetery road and turn right (one mile south of the exit); travel west for 2.5 miles and turn left on Watt Canyon Road. During the winter, the elk feeding site is located one mile past the turn. Parking is available at the site. The gates at Robinson and Joe Watt Canyon are closed to all public use from late November-early December each year and re-open on May 1st. For more information call 509-925-6746. A free map of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area is available at the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce or the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife in Ellensburg.

Umptanum Creek Canyon (#1078)
The medium level trail leaves behind the highway and clusters of anglers and rolls up past an old homestead (complete with an overgrown, brambly apple orchard) and leads into pristine desert wildlife habitat. The year-round waters of Umtanum Creek draw a vast collection of critters to this canyon. Bighorn sheep roam the canyon walls and browse the grass-rich bottoms. Deer abound throughout the area. Coyotes hunt the heavy populations of rabbits, rock chucks (marmots), and upland birds (quail, pheasant, chukar, grouse, Hungarian partridge, and others). Rattlesnakes are frequently seen in the summer (another reason to visit in winter months) when they congregate to take advantage of the mice, voles, and ground squirrels that thrive in the creek-fed grasses and tree stands. Beavers and muskrats build homes in the creek, creating an endless series of pools and ponds throughout the length of the valley. All around, underfoot and on the canyon walls, desert wildflowers color the canyon.

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