Photo by Angie Quantrell
A few weeks back, we went for a hike around Lake Easton. It was a gorgeous day with both shady and sunny sections. If only we had our swimsuits, we could have jumped in the lake to cool off!
The above picture is of the bridge visible from I-90. If one travels east first, this is at the end of the hike. You can just see the trail bridge across the lake along the Palouse to Cascades Trail (near center, whitish line along the water).
We started out at the picnic area/day use portion of the Lake Easton State Park (Discover Pass required). It wasn’t too crowded when we got there and we managed to get a great parking spot. But beware late arrivals when the weather is warm! When we got back from the hike, the parking lot was crammed, people were circling looking for spots, and the beach area was wild. The better plan is to arrive early.
The directions I found were a bit vague-I love well-posted hikes with good signs. But alas, we did not get lost. We wondered once or twice but just kept going. And once we were headed towards Ellensburg on the Palouse to Cascades Trail, but we didn’t get too far before we realized we were headed east instead of west. (Once you pass through Easton, you must head back west to circle the lake.)
Starting at the beach/picnic area right on the lake, we walked east, following a sort of general trail. Which proved to be correct. The Kevster, my honey, is walking along the tree-lined trail above. The surprise was when we had to climb a hill, which we did not notice as we drove in.
Follow the trail past the lake. It will eventually go past the lake and meander right beside the Yakima River as it exits Lake Easton. Pretty cool!
We passed the Yakima River two times. Once, as seen above, is right past the eastern end of the lake. The other is on the opposite end of the lake, where the Yakima River enters Lake Easton!
After the riverside trail leads you back to the main road, Lake Easton Road, hang right and walk back across the bridge and through Easton. Once you are through Easton, follow the signs to the Palouse to Cascades Trail (a right turn on Cabin Creek Road).
I’m standing between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tracks. Continue over the tracks, easing right (not left like we did at first) around another corner and you will see a sign leading you to the Palouse to Cascades Trail. It looks like a road. Great for walking!
And a tunnel! I love tunnels, particularly ones I can see through without too much difficulty.
I love this picture!
And then this! A very cool trail bridge over the Yakima River! On the right side you see the beginning of the lake, on the left is the Yakima River. Just think, this river flows all the way down to my valley!
Lake Easton, looking north. I-90 is right behind the trees along the northern edge of the lake.
The Yakima River
The obligatory selfie with my honey.
Continue over the trail bridge for just a short distance and follow the signs on the right to travel along the western edge of the lake, looping back around the lake. Keep going and you will pass an old concrete bridge. This location is usually full of swimmers, fishers, and boaters! We saw all three. And you can see it at the bottom of the big hill as you drive east from Seattle on I-90.
We walked through the campground, trying to avoid the main road. Which didn’t work the whole way, but it was fine. Pretty soon we were back to the car, already imagining hiking further along the Palouse to Cascades Trail towards the top of the pass (but maybe not the whole 18 miles in one day!).
This is a beautiful hike, and interesting because of the scenery changes.
NOTE: We hiked the Columbia Hills State Park Hike the weekend before COVID-19 lock-downs. Even then, people on the trail were distancing and loud murmurs of impending disaster made everyone uneasy. I’m posting this now, in August 2022. Trail conditions are MUCH drier and hotter. I imagine rattlesnakes, ticks, sunburn, and dehydration are all the rage right now. I’m not going to personally check that out though. Prepare well!
Spring is the time to enjoy hikes along the Columbia River Gorge.
We hiked about 4.5 miles of the Crawford Oaks trails on Highway 14, on the north side of the highway near Horsethief Lake. I say spring and fall because there is only sparse shade on the service road headed up to the head of the canyon. Once you reach the ridge view trails and grasslands, well, all you have is grass, sagebrush, and weeds. No shade.
But. You have fantastic views! We could clearly see Mt. Hood, The Dalles, and up and down the Columbia River. While warm in the canyon, once we hit the top of the hills, the wind was blowing Goldendale-style. Good thing my hat has a neck band for holding it on. This kept us cool, but the sun was in full force.
One very cool thing we saw was the waterfall. You can hear it from the parking lot and on the way up, as you hike beside the stream and cross it to get to the trails. I doubt there is much water flowing in late summer and fall. The water attracted all sorts in winged (and annoying) insects. Butterflies, horseflies, and beetles. Birds were plentiful and filled the air with chattering, squabbling, color, and entertainment. One of my favorites has always been meadowlarks. We heard several singing their beautiful song as we hiked. Jays, magpies, a bald eagle, and numerous sparrows added to our enjoyment.
Squirrels darted all over the canyon area and chittered loudly at we hiking intruders.
All in all, it was a beautiful hike. While we did not see snakes, I know rattlesnakes will become an issue as it warms up.
This is a great hike right now. OH. We were about two weeks too early for the lupines. That is going to be one beautiful show.
Necessities: sunblock, hat, sunglasses, ample water, good shoes
The trailhead has one of the cleanest port-o-potties I’ve seen, plus a shaded picnic table. Trails are well marked.