Each spring, the desert hills near Ellensburg, Yakima, and the Tri-Cities burst with colorful blooms. During one short hike last spring, I counted more than two dozen species of wildflowers, all in full, glorious bloom. I also saw mule deer, bighorn sheep, ospreys, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, an array of songbirds, and the signs of several small mammals, including an active badger burrow.
The eastern edge of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Refuge offers some of the best desert hiking in the state, with an amazing array of wildflowers filling the spring days with fragrant perfume and washing the dry brown hills with vibrant colors. Of course, come summer, the area is also home to rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders, so watch where you and your dog tread. Note that this is a dry route with only one water source along the way. Provide lots of water for your dog, and check her often for dehydration.
© 2010 Dan A. Nelson/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.