Hike of the Month: Crab Creek (Harrington, Wash)

The shrub steppe is perfect hiking terrain for shoulder season: it is seldom difficult to access as late fall transitions into real winter, with crisp morning temperatures frequently warming as the sun climbs in the sky. Always check the forecast and consider bringing microspikes in the event of an early blanket of snow in the lowlands, but, for the most part, a hike in Crab Creek should be snow-free through early winter.

The map for this Bureau of Land Management property does not show all of the trails this area has to offer, perhaps because some of the trails have been pioneered by ranging cattle. The cattle paths along the creek are so scenic they are worth dodging the cowpies, so my preferred route for Crab Creek/Rocky Ford is to hike clockwise from the parking area on Harrington-Tokio Road, following Crab Creek without crossing it. The trail hugs the creekbed, making for a nice long hike with very little elevation gain. At roughly the 5-mile mark, the trail crosses the creek, but those who wish to keep their feet dry in the cold temperatures of the late season can turn right and climb a short hill to loop back toward the parking lot. This last section is perhaps slightly less interesting since it follows the fence line between the BLM property and adjacent farmland, but the views go on for miles and offer up opportunities to see wildlife in the distance.

The full loop via this trail is a total of 8.7 miles with a mere 325 feet of elevation gain. It is easy to shorten the hike by skipping the upper portion of the loop, choosing instead to do an out-and-back hike along Crab Creek.  

Maps: Blm.gov/sites/default/files/orwa-CrabCreekRockyFord-map.pdf

Getting There:

From Spokane take I-90 west to exit 231. Take Danekas Road 1.4 miles to where it intersects N Hills Road and turn north. N Hills Road becomes Harrington-Tokio Road. Follow it for 6.3 miles to the Crab Creek/Rocky Ford parking area on the west side of the road.

Holly Weiler is hoping for an early winter and a chance to try out her new pair of Altai Kom skis!

Cover photo courtesy Holly Weiler

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