Yakima Rim Trail


Elevation Gain2,002ft
Trailhead Elevation1,301ft
Elevation Min/Max1300/2731ft
Elevation Start/End1301/1301ft

Yakima Rim Trail

Yakima Rim Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Kittitas County and Yakima County, Washington. It is 3.1 miles long and begins at 1,301 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,002 feet.

Yakima Rim Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"When the doldrums of the rainy season set in on the western side of the mountains, hop over to the Yakima Skyline Trail for a shot of sunshine and fantastic sights. The Skyline Trail meanders along the top of a ridgeline, exhibiting views of the Yakima Valley to the south and the Yakima Canyon to the north. Whether you go for a couple of miles or spend the day exploring, this desert ridge has much to offer.

The trail starts off to the northeast of the parking area, on what appears to have been a road. Quickly the road turns to a single-track trail and the hike up the canyon begins. Climb past seasonal flowers such as sage, lupine, and balsam, while meadowlarks sing from the surrounding hills"

"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."

"This 9.2-mile round-trip day hike or overnighter follows a portion of the Yakima Canyon Rim Scenic Trail over open, sage-covered hills above the spectacular 2,000-foot-deep canyon of the Yakima River. Views are expansive in all directions, sun is plentiful, and you’ll find a profusion of wildflowers carpeting the hillsides in spring.

The Columbia Basin, a basalt-shrouded landscape between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range, is not simply a large, featureless depression as the name might suggest.Along the western margin of the basin lies a region of great ridges (anticlines) separated by deep troughs (synclines).The Horse Heaven Hills, Saddle Mountains,Yakima Ridge, and Frenchman Hills, among others, dominate the landscape here, reaching heights of 4,500 feet. Far below, the Columbia and Yakima Rivers have cut down through the uplifting land, creating impressive canyons."

"The Yakima Rim Trail is part of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Recreation Area above Selah. It is a beautiful example of the dry, sage-scented high desert lands of central Washington. The 100,000-acre preserve harbors many types of wildlife.

The long list starts with elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer, and continues with coyotes, rabbits, buzzards, grouse, and pheasants. I was told to look out for rattlesnakes, but I never saw or heard any. Magpies and hawks dominated my wildlife viewing when I visited this trail on a July day. There are many wildflowers in the spring."

"The L. T. Murray State Wildlife Recreation Area offers some of the best desert hiking in the state, and this far-eastern edge of the preserve boasts the best of the best. Unmatched desert wildflowers bless the dry brown hills with vibrant colors.

You’ll also find an array of birds and animals— swallows, swifts, bluebirds, chukars, quails, magpies, partridges, hawks, and eagles grace the sky while deer, elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes, rock chucks (marmots), badgers, hares, and an army of other small mammals roam the desert floor."

Yakima Rim Trail Reviews

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I'm not sure this locator is placed correctly on trails.com - be sure to check the guide book. The Skyline Ridge goes to the full ridgeline above the Yakima river - not too hard to find from the description. Once you start on the road past the gate, look straight up the hill - you are going just left of that location. I had to leave the car about 1/4 of the way to the trail head - you definitely need a stout 4-wheel drive car to take the road past the gate. Just park in the parking area, go through the gate, and take a peaceful walk to the trail head if you have a low clearance vehicle. At the trail head, the trail is on the right just before the trailhead, (which is nothing more than an unauthorized access sign ), and leads you up a tight canyon. The walk was pleasant, and a minor workout. In May, the biggest issue was the very strong wind - I had a full wind-proof jacket, pants, gloves and hat when it was in the mid 60's and I get pretty warm. Towards the top, things get confused. You can follow the trail left, all good, but the easiest ridge access is to the right. Resist the urge to go right, and follow the trail left then double back near the ridge to climb up to the nearest rise and a great rock formation that blocks the wind. I hid behind that rock formation and had incredible views of the dam, railroad and highway running along the river. Wildflowers were in full bloom, hawks worked the wind patterns of the steep descent, and there was even a comfortable place to sit. I felt like I walked up a three star hike and found a five star spot for lunch and rest - I spent almost two hours there relaxing. The trail along the canyon was not interesting given the ridiculous wind levels, so I went back down very pleased with the hike.
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Not too bad finding the end of the road, but the trailhead was really difficult to find. Spent most of my time walking on a cattle road through the "desert" with nothing green or any changes. When I did find the trail head, it just looked like more of the same and I had already killed all my time.
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Really nice break from the pine-laden trails west of the mountains, plus easy to get to from Seattle (2-2.5 hours). Rolling hills, great wild flowers (in May, at least), awesome views. Would rate it as easy-moderate. Elevation gain is gradual for the most part. We took the "short" route on the way back and followed the rail tracks to the base. Unfortunately, to get back to the parking lot meant an intense scramble up sketchy elk paths and rock fall to get up over the ridge. Good workout, but not all that much fun. Suggest sticking to the trail on the way back. We saw a few rattlers along the way, so be sure to wear good boots and long trousers.

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Trail Information

Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wenas Wildlife Area
Local Contacts
WDFW trail map
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018