Umtanum Creek Canyon

Ellensburg, Washington

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Begin with a walk over a bouncy suspension bridge above the trout-rich waters of the Yakima River. This trail meanders up an ever-narrowing canyon, but it also seems to be a path to the past. The 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.

Umtanum Creek Canyon Professional Review and Guide

"Begin with a walk over a bouncy suspension bridge above the trout-rich waters of the Yakima River. This trail meanders up an ever-narrowing canyon, but it also seems to be a path to the past. The 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."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Ellensburg
Distance: 6
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 3 to 6 hours
Season: November through May
Trailhead Elevation: 1,300 feet
Top Elevation: 2,000 feet
Local Contacts: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Local Maps: Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Yakima
Driving Directions: Directions to Umtanum Creek Canyon

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May 2018