Cowiche Canyon Trail

Upland Trail

MARCH 15, 2008   This hike in the dry climate of the Yakima Valley was a refreshing change of pace after months of snowshoeing.  As I left rainy Seattle and snowy Snoqualmie Pass behind me, the sun and the Stuart Mountains appeared on my drive to Yakima.    

The Cowiche Canyon trail is 3 miles along the Cowiche Creek and is built on the path of an old railway bed.  The high color of the rock formations of Cowiche Canyon is a perfect backdrop for subtler shades of sagebrush.  The rock formations themselves are amazing, especially a row of columns that have been dubbed “the Easter Island Heads.” 

At the 1.7 mile mark, the Uplands Trail branches off from the Cowiche Canyon Trail and affords the hiker with stunning views of the Canyon.  It is up here that wildflowers are already in bloom.  Fields of purple grass widows mix with the sagebrush, joined by the early bloomers of a few others, including violets and yellow bells.  As you reach the high point of this trail, it opens up to views of valleys and mountains in every direction.   There are plenty of trails to explore up here, but I turned back when a sudden hail storm swept across the valley and drenched me. 

The Cowiche Canyon Conservancy has done an excellent job of keeping this beautiful canyon pristine, but this is by no means a wilderness hike.  The trailhead is at the end of a residential street, and local residents walk their dogs here as a matter of course. 

 Cowiche Canyon Trail:  6 miles roundtrip, no elevation gain

Uplands Trail:  2.3 miles roundtrip, 400’ elevation gain

Prelude to a Hike - The Stuart Mountains from Indian John Hill Rest Area

Hiking the Cowiche Canyon Trail and the Uplands Trail