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Big Burn Canyon Professional Review and Guide
"The sprawling public land preserve of the Oak Creek State Wildlife Area offers some of Washington’s best extended desert hiking. This route allows you to enjoy a mild day hike or a gentle backpacking trip. You’ll find an array of wildlife, and bighorn sheep prowl the upper slopes of Cleman Mountain. Since being reintroduced in 1967, the large curly-horned beasts have thrived on the rich desert mountain."
--Alan L. Bauer & Dan A. Nelson, Best Desert Hikes Washington (The Mountaineers Books).
The Wenas Wildlife Area, as the guide book says, has so many hiking opportunities it feels miserly to stick with just one. But given time allowed, I hiked the Big Burn Canyon and up to Cleman Mountain.
First, don't park at the turnout. The 'No Trespassing' signs at the gate are for general provision - you can drive your car through the gate and just park in a convenient area inside. I parked in the pullout, and many wondered what I was doing as they went through the gates.
The guide book is quite accurate getting you to the junction that 'looks like a main road.' It didn't look like a main road to me, but it is the only road heading up the hill in the general area. Continuing on the level leads to a great little camping area, and plenty of creeks for water.
Heading up leads quickly to a camping area on the right, then climbs swiftly into the hills along the ridge with the Canyon to your left. At the first Y, I recommend checking out the on level left trail that goes down to the creek. Beautiful area and great to camp in if it is hot. It was raining/snowing on me, so I continued up.
I wasn't sure where Cleman Mountain was from the directions, but there is not doubt when you get there - the trail drops off steeply. Continue pushing toward better views of a valley - there are some lovely views down to the river valley just south.
There were a few ATV's on the trail, but everyone was very friendly and I talked with a number of people. A great hike for solitude with occasional encounters - at least early season. And watch out for cold/nasty weather. I ran in to a lot of snow when I was climbing toward the top of the pass.
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