If you live in the furiendly state of Washington, you probably know that there are some furtastic nature trails. Those in the Palouse area can visit the Kamiak Butte. The Kamiak Butte County Park which houses the Butte offers lots of great amenities within its 298 acres, including five miles of trails, picnic tables, campgrounds, an amphitheater, and shelters for events. The most pupular of these is the 2.5 mile Pine Ridge Trail.
This lovely loop can be accessed in two places off of the Kamiak Butte Park Road, the main road leading into the park from Fugate Road. A small spur trail connecting to the loop can be taken from the middle of the road, just past the playground and information kiosk where free parking is available. There's also restrooms there, so be sure to fill up your water bottles for the hike. The other access point is right off the very end of the road heading west, where you can also find parking, and access to the campground areas.
Starting from the first access point near the kiosk, you will head across the street and into the forest of Ponderosa Pine, Western Larch and Douglas Fir on the Pine Ridge Trail. In the spring, you can also see wildflowers growing underfoot, but be sure to only take photographs out of the park, as there are endangered species here. There's also 130 different bird species flitting about, and about 30 different mammals, so keep your eyes peeled, and your pup on a leash throughout your adventure. The trail will go in a zigzag pattern, where you can see the quartzite rock outcrop of the Kamiak Butte. This leads into the crest of the Kamiak Butte.
Now you will be hiking along the backbone of the Kamiak Butte, which has forest on one side, and grassland on the other. To the northwest, you can see Steptoe Butte, and to the south are the Blue Mountains. In this sunny area, you can see Red-Tailed Hawks scanning the ground for lunch, and wildflowers from February to June.
Next, you will come to the summit. A spur trail can take you right to the top of the summit at 3651 feet, but be sure to stay on the path as it is on private property. Continuing on the Pine Ridge Trail, you will loop back around to the North Side, where the area becomes shady and forested once again.
When you get to an area densely packed with trees, you've hit the Old Ski Run. This ski run was built in the 1950's, but failed due to a lack of snow. Now, you can spot owls making their home here. Past this, you can either head to the parking area for the access point near the campgrounds, or keep on the trail towards the Thicket. This collection of small trees and shrubs grows on a spring, which results in a rich growth of diverse plants and animals. You may even spot a porcupine! Continue on to catch the spur trail where you started, and head back to the information Kiosk.
With clean-up bags on hand, and adventure on your mind, you and your pup will love to explore the diverse eosystems found at the Kamiak Butte County Park!