If you’re looking for worthwhile activities in Walla Walla, then look to the mountains. Walla Walla is home to some of the best hiking trails in the country scattered along the areas forests and national parks such as the Umatilla National Forest. The national forest offers a wide selection of trails to explore, but remember that it is prudent to know and understand trail ratings as not all the available hikes are suitable for beginners. While visiting Walla Walla, you can find information on the trails at Umatilla National Forest by visiting the Walla Walla Ranger Station located at 1415 W. Rose Street.
The national forest is broken up into four ranger districts: North Fork John Day, Heppner, Walla Walla and Pomeroy. The Walla Walla ranger district is home to 19 different trails that allow hiking, biking, horseback and ATV access. One of the lighter trails is the Jubilee Lake National Recreational Trail (#3230). This 2.6 miles trail is open from May 1st to October 30th. Its maximum 8% grade, benches and vault toilets at the mid-point contribute to this trail having a low amount of difficulty, which in-turn contributes to the high amount of use it typically sees. This national Recreational Trail is well maintained and it offers hikers a great view of Jubilee Lake with access to several good fishing points.
Another easy trailhead located in the park is the Whitman Route Overlook Trail (#3095). This trail is open from March 1st to October 31st, and it offers hikers an interpretive display on the Marcus and Narcissa Whitman route as well as very nice picnicking sites. Expect moderate use on this trail, which is a pleasant surprise because the final reward at the end of the tail is a panoramic view into Meacham Creek Canyon.
A trail with a little bit more difficulty is the 9.8 miles North Fork Umatilla Trail (#3083). The trail begins at 2350′ at the Umatilla Forks day use area and ends at 5000′ at Coyote Ridge. The most challenging part of this trail is a 2000′ climb in 5.8 miles along the south slope. The reward for making it through this trail is an unobstructed view of the Umatilla drainage’s North Fork. The recommended season for this trail runs from March 1st to October 31st and, even though this trail is used heavily, this trail does have minimal run ins with other recreationalists. Consider the timing of your Walla Walla vacation if hiking is on the agenda.
One of the most difficult trails in the Walla Walla Ranger District is the Umatilla Rim Trail (#3080). This 7.5 miles trail begins at the Buck Creek Trailhead and ends at both the Blue Mountain Trail and Lake Creek Trailhead. This trail takes you up over 2050′ from its 2400′ starting point to the final elevation of 4450′. In the first 1.5 miles alone there is an elevation gain of about 1900′. The final panoramic view of Buck Mountain, however, makes this trail worth its difficulty.