Blythe Lake and Coulee Trail

Loop • 5 mi • 350 ft

Spring in the Columbia Basin is short and intense. The air is sweet with the smell of sage and flowers are popping up everywhere. In May, the hills are still fresh and green and dotted with soft, colorful cushions of spreading phlox and balsamroot. Blythe Lake is a gem in May and is just one of several lakes located in the refuge. The refuge is ideal for hikers of all abilities, especially for those with a variety of interests (such as geology, natural history, photography, and birding). You can wander as little or as far as you like. The terrain is open, with columns of basalt towering over sagebrush–steppes and wetlands. Blythe Lake is ideal for birding enthusiasts; sandhill cranes can be seen during spring migrations. In spring, birds and small mammals are busy, and every shrub seems to hold a red-winged blackbird.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: McDonald
Length: 5 total miles
Elevation Gain: 350 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Easy to moderate
Season: Hikable: April through October, Best flowers: May
Top Elevation: 1,250 feet
Local Contacts: Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Local Maps: USGS O’Sullivan Dam
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