Looking for some hiking trips and people to go with?
The hiking season is about to go into full swing, with the weather finally getting better. This next six to eight weeks offer some of the best opportunities to hike the nature trails and enjoy the spectacular scenery available in south central and eastern Washington.
The Tri-Cities has two well-established non-profit groups that offer opportunities to go on hikes to great places within three hours of Tri-Cities with experienced leaders.
The Intermountain Alpine Club (IMAC) (www.imac-nw.org) tends to do hikes on weekends, while the Fun, Fit and Over Fifty Club (FFOFC) (http://www.ffofc.org/) takes its trips during the middle of the week.
If you are interested in going on any of these hikes, check the calendars at the websites and get in touch with the trip leader to get the details for each trip. The events described tend to be all-day hiking trips — five- to eleven-hours’ duration. The cost is gas and parking fees, your shared contribution for the transportation. You will need to be at the departure location on time, bring a pack, the right gear and clothes to match the weather, water, lunch, and hiking essentials including bug repellent and sunscreen.
Here are numerous options for the month of May.
April 21; Intermountain Alpine Club
Clemen Mountain, Naches
Distance/Difficulty: 8.2 miles round trip / moderate 3 out of 5
Leave Richland at 6 a.m. The trailhead starts off Highway 12 north and west of Yakima and climbs 3,300 feet to the top of a Mount Clemen overlooking the Yakima valley. There should be a lot of wildflowers and the possibility of seeing deer and bighorn sheep in Waterworks Canyon. Cost: $18 plus food after the hike. Round trip 180 miles.
April 21, Intermountain Alpine Club
John Day Fossil Beds, Mitchell, Ore.
Distance/Difficulty: 7 to 8 miles total / moderate 2 out of 5
This will be an all-day trip – three-hours’ drive each way to the national monument. Leave Kennewick at 6 a.m., hike from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a stop for lunch at noon, then head home. The plan is to hike at several prime locations with a target distance of seven to nine miles total. The elevation gains are nominal, with 456 feet at the highest with distances from one to four miles each way, out and back. We will try to visit at least three or more sites. The geology will be spectacular, and the flowers should also be in bloom at or near peak. Cost: $36, RT 360 miles
April 21, Intermountain Alpine Club
Tieton River Trail, Yakima
Distance/Difficulty: 10 miles total / moderate 2 out of 5
The Tieton River Trail is on the Oak Canyon State Wildlife Area just west of Naches. This hike offers several unique forest types, wildflowers and basalt formations. There are close-ups of the river and a suspension bridge. The trail ends at an irrigation canal with a nice view down to the river where we will eat lunch and then retrace the trail back to the trailhead. Cost $21 including parking share, RT 190 miles.
April 25, Fun, Fit and Over Fifty Club
Juniper Dunes Wilderness, Pasco
Distance/Difficulty: 8 miles total / moderate 2 out of 5
This hike is in the Juniper Dunes Wilderness. We will visit the sand dunes and two juniper groves — the northernmost juniper communities in North America. There will be a lot of flowers, mainly balsamroot and cushion phlox. Cost $9, RT 90 miles.
April 28, Intermountain Alpine Club
Westberg Trail, Ellensburg
Distance/Difficulty: 4.2 miles total / moderate 2 out of 5
Leave 7 a.m. from Tri-Cities. The trail is located in the L. T. Murray Wildlife Recreation Area. The hike is a 2.1-mile out and back, with a 2,000-foot gain to the top of Manastash Ridge (3,500 feet). Depending on the weather, there may be spectacular panoramic views of the central Cascades and Kittitas Valley. The flowers will likely be spectacular. Cost $22, RT 220 miles.
May 2, Fun, Fit and Over Fifty Club
Moses Coulee, Moses, WA
Distance/Difficulty: 4 to 6 miles total / Easy to moderate 2 out of 5
Leave Richland at 8 AM. This hike is in Upper Moses Coulee, a Nature Conservancy preserve about 60 mi north of Moses Lake. There will be high basalt cliffs, waterfalls, and intricately sculpted rock forms. Hiker-made trails will take us through a pristine basin with an array of flora and fauna including dense, mature sage brush and wildflowers. Cost $21 RT 260 miles.
May 5, Intermountain Alpine Club
Crawford Oaks, Lyle
Distance/Difficulty: 9 miles total / moderate 2 out of 5
Leave Tri-Cities and drive down Highway 14 to the Columbia Hills Natural Preserve. The hike is 9 miles total with a 1,300-foot gain. Stop for lunch at the old homestead. The trail offers magnificent views of the Columbia Gorge and spectacular wild flowers. The trip back will likely include a stop at the Maryhill Winery. Cost $24, RT 240 miles.
May 9, Fun, Fit and Over Fifty Club
Icicle Ridge, Leavenworth
Distance/Difficulty: 6 miles total / moderate 3 out of 5
Leave Richland at 7 a.m. Drive 3 hours to Leavenworth. This moderately strenuous hike climbs 1,800 feet in 3 miles and offers spectacular views and wildflowers that make it all worthwhile. This excellent early-season day trail offers lush green forest, sunny open areas teeming with wildflowers, and stunning views of the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers, the Tumwater Canyon, and the rugged mountains. Cost $30, RT 300 miles.
May 16, Fun, Fit and Over Fifty Club
South Fork Walla Walla River, Milton-Freewater
Distance/Difficulty: 9 miles total / moderate 3 out of 5
Leave Richland at 8 a.m. This is a moderate out-and-back hike along the south fork of the Walla Walla River as it riffles out of the Blue Mountains south of Milton-Freewater. It’s approximately 9 miles and gains about 750 feet as it up-and-downs in the narrow valley of grass and trees. Elk, deer, turkey and coyotes may be seen. Cost $16, RT 160 miles.
May 23, Fun, Fit and Over Fifty Club
Bear Canyon, Naches
Distance/Difficulty: 7 miles total / moderate 3 out of 5
Leave Richland at 7:30 a.m. The hike is in the Oak Creek Wildlife Refuge heading west from the Tieton River. A moderate-to-strenuous hike heading up from Highway 12 to Bethel Ridge. It’s 3.5 miles to the top of the ridge, with an elevation gain of 1200 ft. The trail offers views of the river canyon and wildflowers. Cost: $20, RT 200 miles.
May 30, Fun, Fit and Over Fifty Club
Manastash Lake, Ellensburg
Distance/Difficulty: 8 miles total / moderate 3 out of 5
Leave Richland at 7:30 a.m. This moderate-to-strenuous hike is southwest of Ellensburg in the western end of Manastash Ridge. It is 8 miles round trip with 2,100 feet of elevation gain involving two lakes, the end point being the small, pretty, forested Manastash Lake. It is one of the two alpine lakes that rest atop Manastash Ridge, one of Central Washington’s most notable geologic formations. Cost: $26, RT 260 miles.
Paul Krupin is an avid local hiking enthusiast, retired environmental specialist, and a member of the Intermountain Alpine Club (IMAC). At least once a month, he leads a free hike to one of the local area trails at least once a month. He can be reached at email@example.com.