Get a workout on this steep hike from Umtanum Creek to the ridge above the canyon. In spring, it is filled with wildflowers and birds, with chances of seeing rattlesnakes and bighorn sheep. In the fall, there are amazing views from Ellensburg to the Wenas to Yakima and more with fall foliage.
This shares a trailhead with the Umtanum Creek Canyon trail at the Umtanum Recreation Site. This is a popular site for fisherman and floaters as well as limited camping. The trail is a sandy route that begins at the Umtanum Recreation Center and crosses the Yakima River and the railroad tracks on a suspension bridge, then go under the tracks, and turn to your left to find the trail. This is a small, unsigned dirt path.
Not far down the trail is a wooden sign board posted with notices. The trail is unmarked otherwise; this junction where the Umtanum Creek Canyon Trail goes straight (or to the right). To reach the ridgeline, take the well-trodden path to the left. It will soon begin to increase in elevation as you meander through desert sagebrush and wildflowers, passing a lovely quaking aspen grove before turning to the west. Shortly after you will come out and begin your ascent again going more south or southwest.
After a mile of hiking, you'll enjoy views of the canyon below you. Another half mile of hiking reveals the snow-spangled Stuart Range to the north. The grade is persistent and moderately strenuous, until the last half mile, which intensifies, becoming steep and strenuous on the final push up the ridge. After a rain it might be a bit slippery but not bad enough to avoid. Some loose rock throughout the hike can be challenging as well.
The fine sand on the steep grade will make every step slippery and precarious, but by mile 2.5 the top of the ridge comes into view. Cross the dirt road and continue on for just a little bit farther. At the ridge crest, it can be windy and cool as you approach the ridge, but you'll want to linger awhile for the massive views of Rainier and Adams at the top!
WTA Pro Tip: The parking lot is owned by BLM and fees are in place year-round; $5.00 a car.