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Yakima Skyline Trail

Central Washington

Location

Central Washington -- Yakima
View map below

Length

4.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1446 ft.

Rating

3.77 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

Bird's-eye views of the stunning Yakima Canyon, miles of wildflower fields, and a line of ragged fenceposts marching all the way along the trail -- the Yakima Skyline Trail is a great conditioner, or extend it to a full day hike.

A gate that separates the public road from Bureau of Land Management land is closed and locked. However, there is access for foot-traffic via the chained gate. Do not block access to the private driveway that abuts the entrance. Walk the road for less than 3/4 mile to the unmarked trailhead.

From this area, follow the trail as it winds through fields of balsamroot and cheatgrass, gradually leading to the rim of the canyon about a half mile from the trailhead. Here you can peer down into Yakima Canyon without risking vertigo -- the ground falls away in a staircase pattern so it's not a sheer drop. Despite that, keep children close at hand here.

Continuing onwards and upwards, note the gorgeous expanse of wildflowers all around you. Look for purple bitterroot, purple larkspur, white and pink buckwheat, even fluffy big-headed clover early in the season. Keep an eye out for wildlife as well. Bighorn sheep live in the canyon, and pelicans like the Yakima River Canyon. You may be lucky enough to spot a few soaring on the breezes as they come out of the canyon.

The trail proceeds uphill for another mile, following the fenceposts. Then it turns away from the rim of the canyon briefly, allowing you a respite from climbing as you traverse through ever-thicker wildflowers. But soon it turns back toward the canyon rim, and you'll enjoy the rest of the hike to an old hitching post at the high point.

It's two miles to this hitching post. The view here is gorgeous, and it's a great place to stop for the day. But, you can proceed even further on if you wish. Dropping into the saddle offers even better views of Roza and the dam that provides irrigation to some of the Yakima Valley. It's nearly 6 miles roundtrip if you continue on to the saddle.

Or go big. Head for the high summit visible from the hitching post. Locally known as Gracie Point, it adds another two miles to your hike and a fair bit of elevation gain, but views from the top, on a clear day, are incredible.

 

Yakima Skyline Trail

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7127, -120.4760 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Central Washington -- Yakima

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wenas Wildlife Area

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Guidebooks & Maps

Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

WDFW Wenas Wildlife Area map - https://goo.gl/YnaNCh

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Yakima

Getting There

Take I-90 to exit 110 for I-82. Continue on I-82 to exit 26 for Selah/Canyon Road. Make a right off the freeway exit onto Firing Center Road, which bends north, and then turn left onto Harrison Road, traveling west. Drive 1.9 miles southwest toward the town of Selah before coming to an intersection, using the right lane to turning right onto Wenas Road (yield sign only, no stop sign for turning right).

Continue nearly 3 miles to a Y junction near an old fire station, a small, one-building fire station in a gravel parking lot. Turn right here. Continue straight ahead on Gibson Road, and 0.3 miles past getting onto Gibson Road, turn right on Buffalo Road. Here the pavement ends and the Wenas Wildlife Area begins.

Follow this rough gravel and dirt road 1.5 miles to the trailhead. You will pass one other trailhead for a different hike in the same area, continue past this, around the left bend in the road, to where the road dead ends at a driveway and a gate in the elk fence.

Continue through the gate, driving a short distance to the parking area (not marked). There are no facilities here. Park your car where the road widens on a flat overlook (ensuring to leave room for other visitors) and hike down the road onto the trail (marked by cairns), passing an old 'white' metal sign on your right. Discover Pass required. Please remember to Leave No Trace and be especially aware of fire conditions.  

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Yakima Skyline Trail

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