Columbia River views, great wildflowers in Hike of the Week
Head east of the Cascades to the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area — but you'll need to fill out a permit to access the area.
Seattle Times staff reporter
For this springtime hike we're headed east of the Cascades to the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area, which offers different scenery than were accustomed to in the western part of the state.
This hike explodes with a vast array of desert wildflowers with the fragrant smell of silvery-green sagebrush, and covers eight miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1,750 feet.
Be sure to bring a wildflower guide book to help you identify the blooms that include rock rose (bitterroot), hedgehog cactus, bighead clover and thyme buckwheat just to name a few. The area is also alive with small critters and birds.
The hike begins on an old road, and the higher you go the more wildflowers abound along the meadows, mountainsides and summits, plus you soak up the views of the Columbia River to the east.
A reminder that Whiskey Dick Mountain is part of the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility so you'll need to fill out a permit to access the area. The permit allows you to park in five lots along the paved Beacon Ridge Road, and make sure to stop off at the visitor center where there are also many other nearby places to hike.
There is a 300-foot boundary surrounding the huge turbine fans that line the hillsides, and guided tours are offered to get a closer view of them. For details, call the Renewable Energy Center at 509-964-7815.
Once you finish the hike be sure to stop by the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, a 7,470-acre park with campsites in the Wanapum Recreational Area. It was here in the early 1930s that petrified wood was discovered, and is one of the most unusual fossil forests in the world.
Directions: Drive east on I-90 to Exit 115 for Kittitas. Head across the freeway, and drive 1.2 miles and take a right turn at the stop sign. Head onto the County Road 81, and drive about 1.2 miles then turn onto Vantage Highway 14. For specific directions, and current trip reports from hikers on this trail, go to www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/whiskey-dick-wildlife-area.
Other outdoor events happening soon:
• The Leavenworth Bird Fest is this Thursday to Sunday. There will be field trips, seminars, wildflower walks, arts events, and family activities. For details, go to www.leavenworthspringbirdfest.com.
• Some of the Lake Easton State Park campgrounds are closed until May 25 to remove diseased trees, but will reopen by Memorial Day weekend. A disease has infested Douglas-fir trees near the park's western campground, day-use area and boat launch. To help reduce the risk to visitors the trees are being removed this week. For details, visit www.parks.wa.gov/parks.
• As the weather warms up and many are headed out for boating on the water it is a reminder that all children 12-and-under are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket on vessels less than 19 feet long. There must also be a life jacket on board for each person older than age 12.
Seattle Parks and Recreation is offering low cost life jackets May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Evans Pool, 7201 E. Green Lake Dr. North in Seattle. Cost for infant to youth large is $20, and for teens to adults is $30. For details, call 206-684-7440 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• This is Wildfire Awareness Week, and the state Department of Natural Resources is inviting the public to attend a campfire pit clean-out event 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 19 in the Bear Creek Campground just west of Clallam on the south side of Hwy. 101 at Milepost 206 along the Sol Duc River in the Olympic Peninsula. Volunteer work consists of clearing debris from and assessing campfire pits for maintenance and safety. For details, go to www.dnr.wa.gov/Volunteer or call 360-374-2800.
• With the recent warm weather there is now a very high avalanche danger on Mount St. Helens. Climbers who had plans to head up the mountain will be refunded the climbing permit fee. A climbing ranger will be on the mountain to update climbers, and information will also be posted at the Climbing Register at Lone Fire Resort and Marble Mountain Sno-Park. For details, call 360-449-7800 or visit the Monument Headquarters in Amboy. You can also get weather date by visiting www.nwac.us/weatherdata/mtsthelens/now/.
• The Washington Butterfly Association free lecture titled "Butterflies of China" with Dr. Robert Pyle is 7 p.m. June 9 at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st St. in Seattle. For details, call 206-364-4935 or go to www.naba.org/Chapters/nabaws.
• The Thompson Okanagan Meadowlark Nature Festival in Penticton, B.C., is this Thursday to Monday. There will be activities for all ages including guided nature walks and hikes, bird watching, cycling tours and much more. For details, visit www.meadowlarkfestival.bc.ca.
• The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is hosting the "Strength in Numbers" mountain bike movie 6:45 p.m. May 23 at The Mountaineers Club, 7700 Sand Point Way N.E. in Seattle. Cost is $10 for members, and $15 for the public. For details, call 206-521-6001 or go to www.evergreenmtb.org.
• Mount Rainier National Park invites all active military members and their dependents on May 19 to Armed Forces Day where park service will begin issuing an annual pass offering free entrance to all 397 national parks. Show a current, valid military identification card to obtain a pass. For details, visit www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm or 360-569-6501.
• The Washington Waterfowl Association in the Yakima Valley is hosting the Washington State Duck Calling Championship 7 a.m. Aug. 25 at Columbia Park in Kennewick. For details, call 509-786-9196.
• The Washington Brant Foundation's Puget Sound Open Decoy Contest and Festival is May 19 at The Farmhouse Restaurant, 13724 LaConner-Whitney Road in Mount Vernon. The event supports the history and art-form of waterfowl decoy carving as part of the foundation's education mission. Entry fee is $10 per decoy. Divisions include brant, open working, confidence, novice, muskrat and youth. For details, visit www.wabrant.org/decoy-carving-competition/.
• The public is invited to view a partial eclipse of the sun 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 20 at the Goldendale Observatory State Park, 1602 Observatory Drive in Goldendale. Details: www.parks.wa.gov/events.
• The Ski to Sea Race and Festival in the Bellingham area is May 26-27. This seven-legged relay race covers 90 miles with 500 teams participating in seven sports.
The relay race starts with cross country skiing and downhill skiing/snowboarding on Mount Baker, transitions to running and road biking down the mountain, canoeing (two-man) along the Nooksack River, mountain biking from Ferndale to Bellingham's waterfront and ends with kayaking in Bellingham Bay.
The festival includes a parade, car show and block party, culminates with the Fairhaven Festival. For details, visit www.skitosea.com.
• The 114th anniversary of the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 19 at 244 Robert Gray Drive in Ilwaco. A Discover Pass is required to attend this event. For details, visit 360-665-5580.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or email@example.com