White Bluffs - South (Apr 19, 2019)

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white_bluffs_south_coverConditions: Day Hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Hanford
Area: Richland, WA
Reference: Desert Hikes Washington
Stats: 5.85mi, 820' gain

The weather wasn't looking so good on the west side. I wanted to see if any flowers were starting to poke out. That combination meant a drive east. I figured White Bluffs might be a nice change. The last time I was out there was 11 years ago. I thought about heading to the north side (it's a slightly shorter drive) that I hadn't explored much to the south so with a nice day forecasted...I figured I just go for it.

It is a long drive...nearly 3 hours from the house. I always forget that when I head out this way. Oh well...

I reached the trailhead at about 10am (898'). The trailhead is really just a circular turnaround at the gate at the end of the gravel road. I was the only one there. I got out of the car and knew instantly it would be a nice day. I could hear the meadowlarks singing and it was warm...much warmer than this Western Washingtonian is used to.

I walked around the gate and headed down the gravel road which quickly turned to a rough falling apart old paved road. I need to remember to look up where this road originally headed down to. It make one wonder...well it at least makes me wonder.

After just slightly more than a mile my book (624') mentions to look off to the left for a faint path that leads up and away from the road. I kept my eyes peeled but I really didn't see anything obvious...or faint. I walked slowly and then finally I say wnat looked like bent over grass...it was an ever so slight path. I wasn't sure if it was the trail but figured I'd check it out. Sure enough...the trail. Very faint at first, a bit more distinct in the middle and more obvious higher up.

I continued up the trail to the base of the ridge. Eventually the trail got a bit steeper and then a bit more so as it climbed straight up a bump (1.93mi, 622'). When I reached the top of the bump...it was obvious I was on a slight ridge. The trail stays pretty much on the ridge crest. I stopped at about 2.3mi (660') and found a nice little knob off to the right of the trail that served as a nice overlook of the lake and a perfect lunchspot.

After lunch I continued south along the ridge all the way to where it buts up to a fenceline (2.96mi, 743'). My book mentioned dropping down to the right to cross the road and pick up the trail below the road that was closer to the river. That just didn't seem interesting to me. I wanted to explore the valley down to my left. That DID look interesting. It was easy enough to drop down the gentle slopes of the ridge to the valley bottom. Here, I found what looked like a faint trail...it was obvious others had the same idea I did. My low point in the valley was at 3.4mi (580')

I followed the valley floor exploring the grasses and looking for early flowers that might be out. I did find lots of tumbleweed all along my route that could collect in depressions. When I got close to one of these in the valley I spooked out a mature coyote that had been hiding in the mound. That thing shot out of the tumbleweed so fast (hind end down, tail between it's legs) and it shot out like a little rocket. It looked back at me a couple of times as it quickly put as much distance between me and it.

I met back up with my route in at the base of the first steepish bump (4mi, 642') that got me up to the top of the ridge and then followed my route back down to the old paved road (4.84mi) and then back up to the car.

Twas a great day to be out. The place was completely deserted of other humans (I can't vouch for the critters). The flowers are just now starting to come out. The place will be much more colorful in another couple of weeks.
White Bluffs (South) Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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