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A Hike and a Happy Hour: Up the Umtanum, with a side hop to hop country

A straightforward, short and steep hike that offers beautiful views of volcanoes and wildflowers, the Umtanum Ridge Crest Trail is worth a sweaty slog through sunny canyonlands near the Yakima River.

Editor’s note: What goes better after a Northwest hike than a stop for a good craft beer? Watch for more installments in this series, “A Hike and a Happy Hour.” While not every brew stop may host an official Happy Hour, they will always be places you can spend a happy hour. (Remember to designate a driver.)


THE HIKE: Umtanum Ridge Crest Trail, in the Yakima River Canyon

This trail hikes an awful lot like a country-song stereotype: It’s a dirt road that seems to wander with no particular destination in mind.

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Once you’ve hoofed up the hefty hillside, though, you understand why it’s worth a trip east.

Hello, Tahoma! The views — wildflowers on the ground this time of year, and shimmering volcanos in the distance — are worth the steep, sweaty slog.

After the hike, extend your trip with a winding canyon drive to Yakima, where Bale Breaker Brewing serves up delicious brews with fresh hops from nearby fields.

THE FACILITIES: Parking for about 75 vehicles is available at the trailhead, where there are restrooms available.

THE ROUTE: With open views and plenty of sunshine, the trail offers a straightforward hike (6 miles round trip) that meanders through canyonlands near the Yakima River. It’s a rare steep, yet snow-free, option for early-season hikers looking for a workout and payoff at the top.

Begin your trek with a surprisingly uncomfortable walk across a suspension bridge hanging over the Yakima River. With each step, wooden planks creak and moan as the bridge jiggles over rushing water. Despite the bridge’s histrionics, it’s deceptively sturdy.

Then dip beneath a railroad bridge that runs alongside the river, before coming to a wooden signboard….

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