Umtanum Ridge (Mar 22, 2015)

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umtanum_ridge_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS The Cottonwoods
Area: Yakima
Reference: Desert Hikes Washington
Stats: 4.8mi, 1353' gain (round trip to Durr Rd)


Dani and I were up early and met early. The plan was to head to the John Wayne Trail (East) to see the early wildflowers... Well we had to change plans. We followed the directions to the trailhead looking to find the turn off Huntzinger Road only to find the road gated and signs up warning of the closure. Well rats! Now what to do? We talked about it a bit and decided to head to Umtanum Ridge. We thought it had a good chance to see some early color. So back west we headed. We arrived at the trailhead sometime after 10am. So much for an early start. Lots of cars in the parking area. Some hikers for sure. Lots of fishermen no doubt.

We headed over the ridge, across the short suspension bridge, the took the first left at the new (?) sign and then up the ridge we headed.

Some flowers down low, mostly lots and lots and lots of buttercups. After the first steep uphill section the trail levels off a bit, crossed a creek and them makes a pretty direct line uphill to the top of the ridge. Scattered flowers down low transitioned into a decent amount in the mid section of the hike, yellowbells, ballhead waterleaf, a few sparse balsamroot, woodland stars, and bluebells. The last steep section to the ridge/road (after crossing the fence, there were lots and lots and lots of yellowbells.

We stopped at the road and had lunch as we watched the firings going on at the Yakima Firing Range (so that was why the range was closed). Then, we watched as clouds and rain made their way towards us. As it started to spritz we headed downhill. That rain briefly turned into light hail and then just as quickly turned back into rain.

The trail is in good shape. The rain did make it a bit slick in a couple of places but not bad. I've noticed over the last few years how the increase in foot traffic on this hike has make the trail much more defined and wider. It seems like maybe even some switchbacks have been eliminated in favor of a more direct route to the ridge.

Rattlesnakes and ticks did not seem to be out...yet.
 
Umtanum Ridge Slideshow

umtanum_ridge_map

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