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Candy Mountain Preserve is ready for its close up

Drone view of the new Candy Mountain Trail

Hikers will soon be welcome to walk the first trail from the base to the summit of Candy Mountain. The work on the parking lot is expected to finish in early May. The trail’s dedication is scheduled for June 2.
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Hikers will soon be welcome to walk the first trail from the base to the summit of Candy Mountain. The work on the parking lot is expected to finish in early May. The trail’s dedication is scheduled for June 2.

The region’s newest park debuts Friday when officials gather to cut the ribbon at the Candy Mountain Preserve and Trail near West Richland.

Visitors have been using the trail for more than a month but Friday’s ceremonies mark the official opening of the latest addition to a series of ridge-top trails that started in 2005 when Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve first opened.

Friends of Badger Mountain and Benton County will dedicate the park at 11 a.m. at the trailhead off Dallas Road near West Richland. Participants are asked to carpool if possible.

Candy Mountain remains a work in progress. The county has carved a primitive parking lot at the trailhead but has yet to install bathrooms or other amenities. And the trail itself remains unnamed.

Benton County Parks began quietly accepting name suggestions for the trail last week and plans to make a decision later this summer.

Help name the new Candy Mountain trail. The name must be nine characters or less for signage and mapping purposes and should be easy to remember and say. It must be a word that’s already in common use. It should not be similar to the names of the Badger Mountain trails: Skyline, Langdon, Sagebrush and Canyon. Submit ideas to parks@co.benton.wa.us.

The trail name must be nine characters or less for signage and mapping purposes and should be easy to remember and say.

It must be a word that’s already in common use. Obscure, foreign or unfamiliar words that are difficult to pronounce or remember won’t be considered. And it should not be similar to the names of the Badger Mountain trails: Skyline, Langdon, Sagebrush and Canyon.

Submit ideas to parks@co.benton.wa.us.

Candy Mountain is a joint venture between Friends of Badger Mountain and Benton County, which teamed to acquire easements to the top.

Friends of Badger Mountain raised more than $850,000 in private donations, part of which was used to match a $695,000 grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation office to purchase nearly 200 acres on Candy Mountain from two eager sellers, Mark Ufkes and Bob Margulies.

The balance helped pay for planning and trail development. Key supporters include CH2M Hill Plateau, which provided a lead gift of $300,000, and Bechtel National, which provided $100,000.

The Friends group hopes to establish a 20-mile Ridges to River trail extending from Amon Basin at the Kennewick-Richland border over Little Badger, Badger Mountain Candy Mountain and eventually Red Mountain before hitting the Tapteal Greenway at the Yakima River.

Badger and Candy are connected by way of Dallas Road.

Plans to extend the link across Red Mountain hit a snag earlier this year. It is possible to climb to the top of Red Mountain, but the owner of the ridgeline declined to grant a trail easement, thwarting the trail’s progress toward the Yakima River.

Candy Mountain offers similar views and access to the region’s unique geologic features as its big sister, Badger Mountain, but is an easier undertaking for hikers.

The primary trail on Badger climbs 900 feet to a 1,543-foot summit. The shorter, 1.6-mile Candy Mountain trail climbs 560 feet to a 1,385 summit.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell

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