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Ellensburg, Washington

Hike Manastash Ridge

4 Miles Total - 1700 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Stacey Townsend

Quick way to stretch your legs near Central Washington University.

Manastash Ridge is a popular hike in Ellensburg, Washington, attracting many locals and students of Central Washington University. While attending school, I climbed the Ridge a handful of times, always with struggle. After making my resolution of 40 hikes in 2015, I decided to tackle this hike for #22 with a couple of my college roommates. Let's just say my stamina has done a 180 because this hike is challenging and you feel so accomplished after signing your name in the book at the top!

To get here: After reaching Ellensburg, take exit 109 on I-90 to get to Canyon Road. Travel north for 1/2 mile and take a left on Umptanum Road. Follow Umptanum for 1.5 miles and take a right on Manastash Road. Follow Manastash for about 3.5 miles to the intersection with Cove Road and take a left, where you will see parking. From there walk 1/4 mile up the road, past the gate and up to the footbridge across the drainage canal. From there the Westburg trail is to the left, and the Boy Scout trail is to the right.

***The Ray Westburg trail, named in honor of the late wrestling coach at Ellensburg High School, is the more popular trail and the one I recommend. This hike starts steep and stays that way for 2 miles on exposed desert terrain all the way to the top of the ridge at memorial point, gaining about 2000 ft. There are three steep sections for the first 1.5 miles. The last 1/2 mile to the memorial point is steep, but the worst of the climbing is behind.

The wildflowers are so pretty and I've never seen Central Washington so green in all my years of attending school! The view from the top includes all of the Kittitas valley, including the towns of Ellensburg and Kittitas, as well as peaks beyond.

The second route is known as the Boy Scout trail, in honor of a determined group of scouts who built it as an easier alternative to the steep Westburg trail. It is about 1/2 mile longer but gains elevation more gradually. It also spends much of its time in the trees. The Boy Scout trail meets up with the Westburg trail 1/2 mile before the summit, and they become the same trail.

What I didn't know but have heard from acquaintances is that the trail can continue on the forest road when you reach the top of the ridge. Follow that for a couple miles and you can get a view of Rainier.

Coming down, I would be careful. The terrain can be loose in spots making it easy to slip. I like running down and just have to take it at a slower pace (maybe take the Boy Scout trail?!).

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