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May 2002

Hike Through Washington’s Blue Mountains

City life got you down? Head for the quiet hills of southeastern Washington, where the air is clean, the water clear, and bighorn sheep outnumber hikers.

Expedition Planner


Getting there: From Walla Walla, follow US 12 northeast 30 miles to Dayton, Washington, which offers easy access to Tucannon Valley and Wenaha trailheads. To get to the Wenaha trails, drive south from Dayton along the North Touchet Road for about 25 miles, passing the Bluewood Ski Area. Stay on the main road (now Forest Service Road 46) for another 20 miles, and turn right onto Forest Service Road 46-300. Continue to the end of this road at Twin Buttes. For access to trails on the northern side of the Tucannon Valley, continue on US 12 from Dayton about 30 miles to Pomeroy. Turn south onto Benjamin Gulch Road (Road 128) to a junction with Forest Service Road 40. Turn left and continue to the Diamond trailhead at the road end

for multiple access trails leading into the wilderness.

ROUTE: The wilderness area has more than 200 miles of trail, including a 45-mile loop from Twin Buttes described by the author. To access this route, descend from Twin Buttes on the Slick Ear Trail to the Wenaha River, hike downstream to the Sawtooth/Smooth Ridge Trail and then north to Oregon Butte. Turn west and hike around the East Butte Trail back to Twin Buttes. Two road miles close the loop.

Guides: Pacific Northwest Hiking: The Complete Guide, by Ron C. Judd and Dan A. Nelson (Foghorn Press; $20.95) offers numerous route descriptions in the area. The Umatilla National Forest map ($8) is available from Nature of the Northwest Information Center, (503) 872-2750;

Contact: Pomeroy Ranger District, Umatilla National Forest, (509) 843-1891;

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