Although I love hiking through the lush evergreen forests of Western Washington and the scenic views from the trails to the peaks of the Cascade Mountains, I also enjoy the totally different rugged beauty of arid central Washington. We recently took a day trip to see the Cowiche Canyon in the Yakima area. It was a perfect sunny day with temperatures in the 60s and the wildflowers were in bloom. Fortunately my border collies, Tim and Hank are always happy to be my companions on a road trip and hike.
|The Snow Mountain Ranch Cowiche Canyon Trail Head|
Where is Cowiche Canyon?
The Cowiche Canyon Conservancy
As you can see from the following photos, the native wildflowers put on a magnificent spring display. If you are interested in wildflowers in the Pacific Northwest and being able to identify the many species that can be found in the diverse habitats, I recommend the book, Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest as the best guide.
|Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)|
Soon we passed through a grove of Garry Oak trees, the only oak tree species that is native to Washington State.
|Garry Oak (Quercus garryana)|
|Cowiche Creek, Yakima County, WA|
After crossing the creek, I spotted a large golden currant shrub covered in fragrant blossoms.
|Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)|
|Cowiche Canyon Meadow|
|Basalt Rock Column - Yakima County, WA|
|Antelope Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata)|
|Giant Head Clover (Trifolium macrocephalum)|
|Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa)|
|Border Collies Tim and Hank with a view of the valley|
|Wildflowers of Cowiche Canyon|
|Wild onion (Allium - species?)|
|Wax Currant (Ribes cereum)|
|Sagebrush violet (Viola trinervata)|
We finally arrived at the top of Cowiche Mountain at the boundary of the Cowiche Conservancy land and took a break to enjoy a peek-a-boo view of the summit of Mt. Rainier in the distance.
|The top of Cowiche Mountain with a view of the top of Mt Rainier in the distance|
|Poet's Shooting Star? (Dodecatheon poeticum)|
|Orchards of the Yakima Valley|
|Cowiche Canyon Trail Sign|
|Relics from the cattle ranch|
As we neared the end of our hike back at Cowiche Creek, Tim, Hank and a friend couldn't resist taking a dip.
|Border collies, Tim and Hank returning from a splash in Cowiche Creek|