Added by Cammeron Evans
Sick and tired of Western Washington and the Cascades?? Probably not, but you should still check out what once stood as the largest waterfall in the world.
While you probably won't accidentally find yourself out here, this is definitely an area to become acquainted with. This otherworldly landscape sits at roughly the halfway point for a fifty mile stretch of earth referred to as the Coulee Corridor. This land is a prime example of the sheer power and force that mother nature has over what we call home. Walking among these massive rock walls will make anybody feel small, especially when you find out how these formations came to be. I will soon add a story describing this areas history and why I hold it very near to me.
This hike is found off of highway 17 right next to Sun Lakes State Park (same turnoff). Sun Lakes serves as a beautiful area to camp for the night, or for a rental cabin in the park. Prior to hiking the trail, head north on WA-17 about two miles to the Dry Falls Observatory. This neat spot looks down into the area that you will soon get to explore with a new vantage point! This is a great place to check out the lay of the land. During the spring to fall months the observatory itself is open to the public. Definitely go in and watch the short video giving you a crash course on how this landscape was carved out by ice (actually very interesting, I'm not JUST a nerd). Once you get your fix with all of that, head on down to the trailhead that the google pin takes you to.
Dry Falls is in a "desert like" region, much different than Western Washington, and it is crucial to keep your eyes and ears open for rattlesnakes. I have been through here before nearly a dozen times. I have had the pleasure some days of not seeing any snakes while other days I have seen up to four snakes. Be very careful bringing your dogs or kids out here in the spring and summer months. Rattlesnakes do not typically go after you, their rattle is a defense mechanism designed to keep YOU away from THEM! Be smart and listen for this beautiful gift evolution has given these little buggers. Do not approach for any reason, grab the zoom lens or settle for the mental snapshot. Ok, end rant.
This is a very casual loop trail that has little to no elevation change. The trailhead sits right at the base of the massive Umatilla Rock. You now get to meander around the base of this big guy, guided by red trail markers. The trail is super easy to follow with little spur trails here and there to explore. If you are feeling extra adventurous, there is a way to scramble up and get on top of Umatilla Rock! If you would like to go for this option (recommended), go clockwise from the trailhead maybe about a half mile or so. Keep your eyes on the rock to your right, you should be able to see a little saddle that is achievable by scrambling up some loose rocks. There isn't really a wrong or right way to get up here, this is just the easiest way that I have found. This hike is a fantastic area for solitude early spring or winter trips! Grab a map or talk to a Ranger about more hidden gems out in this region. Don't be scared off by its distance from the big city, or the snakes. This area will make anyone stoked for our states diverse geography. It is truly one of a kind.
Note: During the offseason, there are gates that close off the road leading to the trailhead from Sun Lakes State Park. You may still hike here, this closure just adds maybe another mile each way!
- Water (a fair amount, this area can cause heat exhaustion depending on what time of year it is)
- Sunscreen/Sun blocking hat (summer months can get over 100 degrees easily with almost no shade)
- Snake Bite Kit (cheap and recommended)
- Discover Pass for parking
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Camping, Chillin, Fitness, Hiking, Photography, Running, Snowshoeing, Swimming
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