Formerly a ranch, this area was acquired by the Forest Service in 1994, and is now a quiet, barrier-free trail for all visitors to enjoy just outside of the town of Lyle. Efforts are being made to restore native grasses and flowers on this property, and the wildlife here is abundant – in winter, look for bald eagles in the trees, and in early spring, the grasses are abuzz with creatures great and small.
From the parking area, head towards the restrooms, and then turn left onto the upper trail, which goes back away from the highway. After a short stroll, arrive at an interpretive sign just below a directional sign pointing the way to a ‘Wildlife Viewing Area’.
It’s just a short descent to a picnic table and an overlook area where you can watch for bald eagles in winter without disturbing them. Across the way, chickens and ducks in neighboring yards may raise a ruckus, but otherwise it’s remarkably quiet for how close to the highway this location is.
Once you’ve birdwatched to your heart’s content, turn around and come back the way you came. This time, when you reach the interpretive sign, take the lower trail, which parallels the Wild and Scenic Klickitat River as it heads south towards the highway.
At one point, water crosses the trail, which may make for tricky passage for those on wheels. Finish your hike by rounding a corner and heading uphill back to the parking lot, passing an old fireplace at the tail end of the trail. This is the last remnant of the land’s history as a ranch.