2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – June 1999

BLM Hiking: Land of Opportunity

If you look beyond the occasional cow, you'll find the BLM has lots of ruggedly beautiful land to offer. No mining, no oil rigs, just lots of solitude.

by: Matt Purdue

Channeled Scablands, Washington

If your thighs don't like switchbacks, head for this region of rolling hills and shallow canyons, which BLM Recreation Specialist Diane Priebe calls "a little Monument Valley." This 10,000-acre patchwork of public lands was once blanketed by miles of lava beds. During and immediately following the most recent Ice Age, cataclysmic floods rushing from present-day Montana to the Pacific Ocean scoured the land like huge pads of steel wool, carving out wide channels, coulees, buttes, potholes, and basalt towers. Hence, the name Channeled Scablands.

Today the flatlands are covered by sagebrush steppe seasoned with rabbit brush, bitter brush, and a kaleidoscope of spring wildflowers. The canyon bottoms hide creeks and lakes that support coyotes, bobcats, and the rare sage grouse, as well as a variety of flora. There are few maintained trails but plenty of open country with elevations averaging about 2,500 feet.

Location: About 57 miles west of Spokane. Take US 2 west from Spokane for 30 miles to Davenport, then head south on WA 28 to Harrington on the eastern edge of the Scablands.

Hiking it: Fairly level cross-country hiking is the rule here, except for occasional traverses of deep channels. Know your way around a compass and topo. Many of these public land parcels abut private property in a checkerboard fashion, so check with BLM officials about access rights and be sure to respect them. The Scablands are remote, but don't be surprised to crest a ridge and see a power pole or cow off in the distance. Portions are open to grazing and off-roading; call the office below and ask how to avoid these areas. A number of lakes popular with anglers dot the area, but take all the drinking water you'll need, especially in summer when temperatures top out above 90ºF.

Resources: BLM, 1103 N. Farcher St., Spokane, WA 99212; (509) 536-1200. You'll need 1:100,000-scale maps Ritzville and Coulee Dam. Also, 7.5-minute topos Coffee Pot Lake, Irby, Odessa, Pacific Lake, Rocklyn SW, Sullivan Lake, and Swanson Lake.

Thatcher and Eden Valley Wilderness Study Areas


When you come here, bask in all that these adjoining lands have to offer: old-growth conifer forests, oak savannas, bugling tule elk, and steelhead and king salmon runs for starters. When you get home, join the California Wilderness Coalition's effort to win wilderness designation for these 23,000 acres, plus 47,000 more in the adjacent Mendocino National Forest. (Check the Web site at

It's easy to see why it's a battle worth fighting. There are no fewer than seven diverse habitats within Thatcher and Eden Valley that support an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including unique 50-foot Sargent cypress trees, river otters, fields of rare native bunchgrass, and bald eagles. Intrepid hikers can drop from chaparral-scented ridgelines at 6,500 feet into the verdant watersheds of Thatcher Creek and the National Wild and Scenic Eel River.

Location: About 130 miles northeast of San Francisco. Take US 101 north just past Ukiah to CA 20 east. Turn northeast onto Potter Valley Road to Lake Pillsbury. Pick up dirt road M1, which runs along Estel Ridge toward Bald Mountain and the study area boundary.

Hiking it: Abandoned jeep roads on Long Doe Ridge and Horse Pasture Ridge meander in all directions and head deep into the backcountry. Artesian wells and vernal pools are found throughout the area, and creeks and rivers usually run year-round.

Resources: BLM, 2550 N. State St., Ukiah, CA 95482; (707) 468-4000. A map of Mendocino National Forest is handy to have, as are the Covelo 1:100,00 topo and 7.5-minute quads Brushy Mountain, Covelo East, Hull Mountain, Jamison Ridge, Newhouse Ridge, Sanhedri Mountain, and Thatcher Ridge.

Matt Purdue is author of Adventure Guide to Nevada (1998; Hunter Publishing; 800-255-0343; $15.95).

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Jul 01, 2009

Steese Highway, not the "Steens Highway"


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Posted On: Jul 23, 2014
Submitted By: buddero
The Political Arena
Israel/Gaza Conflict
Posted On: Jul 23, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions