If you’re a nature buff who enjoys pristine views of the mountainous landscapes, wildflowers and wildlife, Yakima County boasts numerous trails to explore.
If you aren’t a nature buff, this might be the summer to give day hiking a try. It’s a great way to get out of the house, get some exercise and still follow coronavirus social distancing recommendations. With most summer travel plans on hold, hiking is a good way to experience something new without going too far from home.
Here are five trails worth visiting:
Basalt cliffs, wildflowers and a side hike to a winery and tasting room are all reasons you shouldn’t skip on this trail that travels through an old railroad corridor in the upper West Valley.
You’ll find the trailhead off Weikel Road, from where it stretches southeastward along a winding creek, amid colorful wildflowers and cuts through jagged basalt columns.
The trail crosses the creek several times before reaching a network of other trails that venture into the uplands. One trail leads to Wilridge Vineyard and its tasting room.
Upper trails on the south side of the canyon provide a panoramic view of Mount Cleman, Cowiche Mountain and the surrounding countryside.
Tieton River Nature Trail
This gentle trail travels along the Tieton River outside of Naches, and there are several access points depending on how far you want to trek.
The trailheads are along U.S. Highway 12 — one is across from the Oak Creek Wildlife Area visitor center and another is a few miles away. If you are starting at the trailhead near the visitor center, you’ll need to duck to go through an elk fence. You might see people climbing the andesite rock formations above.
This trail is best in the spring and fall, but if you go early in the morning to avoid the summer heat, it offers stupendous scenery. Kids will enjoy exploring the suspension bridge across the river.
The wildflowers have been in bloom lately. Watch for rattlesnakes and bring water and sunblock.
Selah Butte Trail
If you’re looking for a challenge, this is a trail for you.
Beginning at Yakima Canyon Road (State Route 821) north of Selah, this trail juts steeply upward to a plateau before reaching a moderately steep switchback for a 2.8-mile roundtrip.
This trail cuts through rugged sagebrush, colorful wildflowers with a dramatic switchback near the Cliffs of Insanity — a 1,550-foot trek to the top.
The trailhead is located at a small pullout just past mile marker 4 on Canyon Road.
Ahtanum Ridge Loop
This 2.5-mile trail loop that traverses the Ahtanum slopes dividing the upper and lower valleys begins at Fulbright Park south of Union Gap.
The trail’s difficulty is considered moderate and is largely used for walking, hiking, running and is accessible year-round. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
The trail begins near Ahtanum Creek at Fulbright park south of Union Gap. The trailhead is just left of the park’s military tank and travels though the Washington Agricultural Museum, where old mechanical farm implements and other historic farm equipment are on display.
Goat Rocks Traverse
Pristine views of the largely untouched Cascade mountain range are offered on this nearly 30-mile loop nestled in the Goat Rocks Wilderness area.
This trail southwest of Rimrock Lake is composed of somewhat rugged terrain appreciated by experienced explorers. The Goat Rocks are remnants of a large volcano and the 108,023-acre wilderness area boasts elevations from 3,000 to 8,301 feet at Gilbert Peak.
A span of the trail between White Pass and Walupt Lake straddles a 7,000-foot ridge, providing vast scenic views encompassing three major mountains, Rainier, Adams and St. Helens.
The trail is best used from July until October.