This is about as local as it gets for outdoor activities. Located on the east side of town near Walla Walla Community College, locals and visitors alike are treated to stunning views of the Blue Mountains kissed by rolling fields of wheat. This is a great place to get a little exercise, take the dog for a walk, or escape the city without really having to leave. With so many different activities available, there is something for every member of the family.
What To Do
- Hiking/ Biking/ Snowshoeing
There are three main loops to consider: Kingfisher Trail is just 1.7 miles and follows Mill Creek; Meadowlark Trail is 2.6 miles and hugs the lake and crosses the diversion canal; and Whitetail Trail is 4.8 miles and follows an old gravel road and boundary line. The US Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District map makes it easy to follow the trail or create your own adventure! Don't rule this area out in the winter when the valley is covered in a blanket of snow--just trade the hiking shoes for snowshoes.
Previously known as Mill Creek Reservoir, Bennington Lake is a roughly 50 acre body of water designed mainly for flood control. As an added bonus, it offers year-round open fishing season and is stocked with an average of over 15,000 rainbow trout each spring. A kids fishing derby, sponsored by the Tri-State Steelheaders and the Walla Walla District Army Corps of Engineers, is held in June at no cost and without the need of a fishing license. The lake will recede when no water is diverted, which starts early summer, and the low levels can make access tricky. Bank access is good, and there is a boat launch. Other species in the lake include largemouth bass, white crappie, and yellow perch. Fishing regulations are highly specific and based on location and species. Please always consult the latest information available from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.
- Paddleboarding/ Kayaking
What better way to escape the heat than to lounge on a paddleboard or kayak and float around the bank for a bit. The reservoir is fed by Mill Creek, and since its primary mission is flood control, the lake level does vacillate quite a bit throughout the year. Diversion and thus filling of the lake typically happens after spring snow melt.
What To Expect
Given its proximity to town, this area is heavily used but that shouldn’t deter you. There is plenty of room and activities for everyone. Bennington Lake is actually a prime birding area, so bring binoculars. All the various loops are lovely. If you are from out of town and brought your dog, your pooch will likely collect a few ticks along the way. Regardless, the views are well worth it.
When To Go
Anytime the urge to hop on a mountain bike or run a few miles with dirt under your feet hits you, this is a great trail to consider. Obviously, if paddleboarding or kayaking is on the agenda, wait for warmer weather.
How To Get There
From downtown Walla Walla, go east on Poplar Street which becomes Alder Street. Continue east on Alder Street. Alder Street become Tausick Way (gentle bend to the left). Turn right on Reservoir Road and take that road to its end. If you cross the bridge over Mill Creek you have gone just a tad too far, and turn around in the parking lot for the baseball fields (or enjoy a paved walk along Mill Creek).
Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained.
- Your Public Lands
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Walla Walla District)
Within 1.5 Hours
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Valid Washington fishing license (if fishing). Fishing licenses are available online via the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife or local retail shops such as Bi-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sportsman's Warehouse, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Cascade Farm and Outdoor, and Dunning Irrigation.
No gas powered boats, but electric motors are okay.
There are vault toilets at the parking lot and trailhead. Covered areas, picnic tables, and resting benches available around the lake.