North Fork Walla Walla Trail
The North Fork Walla Walla Trail is a jem located not far from town high in the Blue Mountains. The views, lush foliage, and beauty of old growth forest earn it a spot on the enjoy often list. There are multiple ways to enjoy this trail, from a leisurely hike to multi-day backpacking trip or perhaps even on horse or motorcycle. Considering its elevation, keep this trail in mind for summer or early fall before the snow comes.
Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained.
- Your Public Lands
Umatilla National Forest (Walla Walla Ranger District)
- What To Do
- Hiking/ Biking
The North Fork Walla Walla Trail (#3222) begins on NF-040 and ends at Table Springs/ Bear Creek Trail (#3223). Total length of the trail is 10.1 miles. There is no formal parking at the trailhead; however, there is parking available very close to the trailhead along a pullout on the side of NF-65 (pictured in gallery). Consider downloading the Motor Vehicle Use Map. This part of the forest is reflected on Map 15. The Avenza Map app is also quite helpful as users can upload three maps (or unlimited with a subscription) within the app to use offline. It can track your location offline and overlay your location on the map. Most of the intersections along the trail are not clearly marked, which is why this tool is so helpful.
How To Get There
Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained. Head east on Isaacs Avenue out of Walla Walla and continue onto Mill Creek Road. Travel on Mill Creek Road for 14 miles and you will come to a junction with Tiger Creek Road (sometimes referred to as Tiger Canyon Road or Tiger Ridge Road). Turn right onto Tiger Creek Road and cross a small bridge before the road begins its ascent. If you miss your turn, you will come to a gate for the Mill Creek Watershed. Once you're on Tiger Creek Road you will cross into the National Forest as you make your way nine miles up the winding, gravel road. Tiger Creek Road becomes NF-65 once it crosses into the National Forest. Enjoy spectacular views on the way.
At about 7.5 miles you will come to a sharp turn that meets up with two other marked roads (NF-6511 and NF-6512). If you are pulling a trailer for horses or ATV's, you will want to park at this junction as there isn't a designated parking area for this trail and you may consider accessing the trail via Tiger Ridge Trail (#3224) two miles west on NF-6511 as it is a wider trail. If you are just hiking this trail, you can continue another 1.5 miles up Tiger Creek Road/ NF-65 to the next intersection, which is NF-040 on your right. The trail sign is just ahead off to the right side of NF-040.
You can also access this trail by taking NF-6512 for one mile. Keep in mind there is no parking at this location, and the trail is only marked with a "keep it clean" sign mounted on a tree on the right side of the road. Obviously, you could head up the mountain to the upper trailhead or descend.
When To Go
Enjoy this trail late spring through fall. Both ends of this trail are at higher elevations and are at the mercy of snow melt. Summer is a great time to use this trail to escape the heat of the valley. The trail is surrounded by old growth timber and provides lovely shade. This is a longer trail, ideal for backpacking loops, so go as far as you are comfortable--the entire trail will not disappoint. In fact, this is one of our favorite trails and pretty close to town as well.
What To Expect
This is a great trail for those hot summer days mainly because it makes its way through lush, green, old growth forest. It begins over a mile high and descends at a steady rate along the North Fork Walla Walla River before making a steep climb up to its junction with Table Springs/ Bear Creek Trail. The first few miles of the trail is single track. Once you reach a camping area and the junction with the Tiger Ridge Trail (#3224), which provides ATV access, the North Fork of the Walla Walla Trail will continue at ATV width (50") for about another 3.5 miles. Since this trail is frequently used by ATVs, it is typically maintained quite well.
After the 3.5 miles on ATV width trail, you will arrive at a bridge crossing and begin to make your way back uphill along a steep single track trail for the next 3.5 miles. At the end of the trail you will find the remains of a plane crash. From this point you have the option of going back along the North Fork of the Walla Walla Trail; loop back around via the Table Springs/ Bear Creek Trail (roughly the same distance as traveling back along the North Fork of the Walla Walla Trail but includes six miles of forest road travel); or if you have a friend or shuttle vehicle, you can continue downhill and end up at the lower South Fork Walla Walla Trailhead, which is roughly another 6.5 miles via Table Springs/ Bear Creek and South Fork Walla Walla Trails. This trail lends itself to backpacking as there are camping opportunities along the way.
Motorized vehicles: Class 1 ATV (50" or less in width) and class 3 ATV (motorcycles) only. Must have current ORV registration (WA, ID, CA tags honored) and ATV safety card (motorcycles are a class III ATV). Safety cards are free online if over age 16 and those are good for life. Riders under 16 must take a hands on course. Full details at the Oregon Online ATV Safety Education Course website.
Pack in and pack out. No facilities available in the immediate area.
We are all so fortunate to recreate in the Blue Mountains. So many opportunities exist to play outside whether in a national forest, wilderness area, on a Wild and Scenic River, and more! With these opportunities comes great responsibility to appreciate that we are mere visitors and should all take pride in being good stewards of the wild. Many animals call these protected places home, including moose, elk, bear, cougar, bobcat, and snakes to name a few. Take precautions to respect their home and understand the appropriate response should an encounter occur. Additionally, many plant species thrive in the Blue Mountains, so staying on trail is always good practice. Carry First Aid supplies to better respond to accidents or encounters, and always let others know where the day's adventure is taking you.
Navigation: Consider downloading the Avenza Map app. This app allows users to upload three maps (or unlimited with a subscription) to use offline. It can track your location offline and overlay GPS data from the phone onto the map. The vehicle use maps (for trails allowing motorized vehicles) are the easiest to use. Otherwise, Geo Tracker offers similar tracking capabilities and additional details about your adventure. If no service, Geo Tracker will at least show your location. The Blue Mountains and surrounding area offer a remote recreating experience, and knowing your location is paramount to staying safe. Always make sure to bring paper maps. Tell others where your adventure is taking you and when you expect to return.
Difficulty Level: Here is what we are thinking when we assign a difficulty level: Day Tripper--You don't have much experience in the area but want to get outside! Great for families of all ages. Adventurer--You know your way around the Blue Mountains and love a leisurely day outdoors. Mountaineer--You are ready for a challenge. Wild places excite you and sweat is the goal. Small children beware. Keep in mind some activities may apply to multiple difficulty levels based on usage.
Pets: In general, pets are allowed on a leash and under control throughout jurisdictions. The only restrictions we have encountered are around swimming areas. As a best practice, be mindful of riparian habitat in general. You never know where a precious spawning area might be located. Pack it in and pack it out applies to your furry friend as well.