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Black Canyon

Central Washington

Location

Central Washington -- Yakima
View map below

Length

8.0 miles of trails

Elevation

Gain: 1700 ft.
Highest Point: 4224 ft.

Rating

4.27 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

In September 2020 the Evans Canyon fire swept up Black Canyon. The combination of high winds and updraft created an inferno that torched virtually all of the vegetation. Many find the devastation depressing, but if you can see the canyon as it is now, not compared to what it was, you can find beauty even in the devastation as well as in the regeneration of life.

From the Wenas Road, walk or drive the Black Canyon Road to a large berm at the mouth of the canyon. Cross the berm and continue up the road. The grade is fairly steep at first, climbing between towering sagebrush hillsides studded with basalt cliffs and outcrops. Much of the vegetation is coming back, but there are still black areas where the soil was completely burned. Eventually the trail levels out somewhat and goes beside a long grove of aspen. Most of the mature trees were killed in the fire, but their bases are surrounded by the suckers of new trees. 

In 1.5 miles the road splits. The left-hand fork climbs steeply through open shrub-steppe to the crest of Umtanum Ridge in about a mile. The right-hand fork climbs moderately through blackened pine forest and shrub-steppe meadows, reaching the ridgetop in 2 miles. From the ridge crest the views stretch north to the Stuarts, west to Mount Rainier, and south across the Wenas Valley and Mount Cleman to Mount Adams. For even more panoramic views from the end of the right-hand fork, climb the ridgetop road 0.5 mile to Point 4224.

SEASONAL TIP: Carry all the water you need, and as the weather warms up be alert for ticks and rattlesnakes, especially if you venture off-trail. 

 

Black Canyon

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.8507, -120.7011 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Central Washington -- Yakima

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wenas Wildlife Area

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

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

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Yakima

Getting There

From I-90 at Ellensburg, take exit 109. Head north on Canyon Road for 0.7 mile then turn left at Umptanum Road. Follow Umptanum Road for 18.4 miles until it bears left and becomes Wenas Road. Follow Wenas Road for 3.9 miles to Black Canyon Road on the left. Park here or drive the road (you’ll need high clearance) 0.5 miles to an elk fence or on another 0.8 miles to the mouth of the canyon. There are no restroom facilities.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Black Canyon

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