Umtanum Canyon

Wymer, Washington 98901

Umtanum Canyon

Umtanum Canyon Professional Review and Guide

"This isn’t your typical desert canyon. Though the hills around it are dry and covered with sage and cactus, a pretty creek pierces the heart of the canyon, providing a unique riparian ecosystem in the midst of the desert ecology zone. In addition to all the critters you’d expect to see in the high desert— deer, coyotes, rabbits, rattlesnakes, and raptors—you’ll find other unexpected species, too.

Beavers have claimed large sections of the creek, creating vast pools behind tall dams. Aspen stands quiver and rustle along the beaver pools. Badgers burrow in the banks of the creek. And a sizable herd of bighorn sheep roams the canyon bottom and the steep valley walls."

Umtanum Canyon Reviews

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icon6 Total
follows creek but has areas were creek has washed out trail, also can reach the falls after 10 miles of walking through thick brush. trail is only mantained for the first few miles
I went down the main trail, following the creek to the old homestead site two weeks ago, and came back to see if more flowers were out. Rather than take the same trail, I took the fork to the left, heading up a small side canyon on a trail that climbed steadily, with a little trickle in the canyon on my right side. Very little water flow, but beautiful little moss-covered rocky pools only a few feet across. There were a few more flowers, but only one bright yellow balsam root flower on the whole hike. That side trail leads out onto the high rounded, sage-covered hills with a good view heading towards the 90. Thought I saw some big horn sheep on the very distant hills but without binocs, its hard to be sure. The weather in Seattle had been chilly and cold so it was very nice to sit and soak up the sun and the 75 degree temps. No sign of either rattlers or ticks, not yet anyway. I think I went maybe two miles up the trail that direction before heading back for lunch. It's a nice little trail, lots of diverse plant life and the potential for wildlife sightings. Lots of birds out, and not many people. All in all, a very nice spring hike!
Did an overnighter staying at an excellent camp at second stream crossing. Great diversity of scenery. Quaking aspen were a beautiful bright fall yellow. Trail is easy then pretty much peters out in scree slope about 4 miles in. There's a side trip we also took that takes off to the left a couple hundred meters into Canyon Trail. At branch of this trail, left fork goes over to old road and overview of Yakima River. Right fork heads up to Umtanum ridge.
This was mainly a bird-watching trip; we wanted to see the Prairie Falcons and their possible nesting sites. We were able to observe two sites on the south canyon wall. Although, we couldn't see the nestlings with a scope, we certainly heard them when a parent landed with lunch. We also, saw a Kestrel on its apparent nest at the top of the north face of canyon cliff. William Thacker.
Umtanum Canyon is a unique environment to hike in. I enjoyed all the rock formations (basalt). I went both ways up the river and up the first canyon to the left as you begin walking down the creek. Basically this is a place to day hike, and if you are going down the creek sometimes you can lose the trail, but stay along the creek and you will hit the trail eventually. About 3 miles down the creek the canyon gets narrow and could be tough to navigate through the brairs and such (if you lose the trail). I had a good time, definitely worth the stop.
Been here many times since I was a kid. Lots of cool stuff, from apple trees to beaver dams and lots of scenery.

Umtanum Canyon Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
4 to 6 hours
Snoqualmie National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute series Wymer, Ellensburg
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018