Ellensburg Daily Record: Take a Hike: Preserving the Yakima Canyon

by Dick Ambrose, contributing columnist

November 30, 2012

Not long ago we drove through Yakima Canyon and I couldn’t help thinking about why we enjoy living here.

The beautiful valley with its rich soil, surrounded by rolling hills and mountains with views of Mount Stuart and friends. And nearby is arguably the most scenic and uniquely spectacular canyon in the universe as we know it.

So it makes sense to preserve it to the best of our ability for our continued enjoyment and for the enjoyment of our grandchildren and future generations.

As we drove through the canyon the colors were startling. The reds and oranges of the shrubs riverside, the golden leaves of cottonwoods and aspens, the black basalt cliffs, and the tan grasses, with the liquid light of the river running through it — a more beautiful scene we could not imagine.

Wildlife

We spotted some bighorn sheep as we drove along and some deer on the hillside. A bald eagle was perched on a branch of a large ponderosa pine. “Wishermen” wading and floating the river were casting flies to where they were sure lie a fat, hungry rainbow trout.

We passed Umtanum Creek where a bridge crosses the river. From there a trail heads into the Umtanum Canyon. It is broad at the entrance and narrows as you go deeper.

A mile from the river you can see remnants of an old homestead, where apple, pear and walnut trees still produce their fruit. In the spring look for lilacs and flowering quince that still bloom at the site. Beavers on the job are always attempting to reroute the creek. Sometimes in the process they drown the trail in places.

We then passed the other major trailhead which goes straight up the hill to the east from the highway, presenting would-be hikers with good exercise and great views of the Kittitas Valley and the canyon below.

There are many other excellent hiking opportunities in the canyon. It is no wonder that Ellensburg residents take out-of-town guests to marvel at the beauty in our own backyard.

Continue reading the story.

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