- Your Public Lands
Umatilla National Forest (Pomeroy District), Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness
- What To Do
This six mile out and back does not disappoint. The 1,000 foot elevation gain is done in an initial steady climb, and then a few shorter climbs complete the journey and make the trail to the Oregon Butte Lookout quite manageable, even for younger children. This hike takes advantage of a portion of the Mt. Misery Trail (#3113) but utilizes a spur trail to its end at the Oregon Butte Lookout. The Lookout is an active fire lookout and is staffed during certain parts of the year.
How To Get There
Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained. From Walla Walla, take HWY 12 east to Dayton. Travel through the town of Dayton, Washington (or stop and take advantage of a local bakery or two). Take a right on S 4th Street/N Touchet Road and go five miles, then turn left onto Hatley Gulch Road (gravel road) and go another 4.5 miles to its end. Turn right onto Eckler Mountain Road and follow for 5.5 miles, you will come to a monument and signage for Godman. Turn right towards Godman. After a mile you will enter the Umatilla National Forest and the road becomes NF-46/Skyline Road. Just before reaching Godman Campground, about 10.5 miles ahead, you will take a left onto NF-4608, which is marked. After three miles, you will reach a tri-fork and Google Maps will say you have arrived. Keep far right and continue another three miles to the road's end at a large parking area for Teepee Trailhead.
When To Go
The Oregon Butte Lookout is the highest point of the Washington Blue Mountains. This trail is definitely a late summer or early fall adventure. Just when you think there couldn't possibly be any snow left in the mountains, there likely is a patch or two safely hidden away under the forest canopy. Give yourself plenty of time to sit and enjoy the view. That crisp, clean fall air offers views stretching all the way to Idaho and Oregon.
What To Expect
This six mile out and back adventure makes its start at the Teepee Trailhead. Be sure to take advantage of the view from the parking area either before or after your hike. You know it is going to be a great hike when the parking lot is awesome! Make your way up the Mt. Misery Trail (#3113), gaining most of its elevation over the first 1.5 miles. At the end of the first mile the trail forks. Stay right to follow the ridge line and keep the view, or go left which takes you through the forest. Either way, the trails rejoin each other. At roughly the two mile mark, you will come to a creek-fed horse trough, and the trail makes another split shortly after. At the split after the horse trough, go right. Make a final climb heading south to the lookout cabin at the end of the ridge.
A $5 day-use fee is collected at the trailhead if you don't have an annual permit, such as the NW Forest Pass.
If wanting a permit good for many more adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest, consider a Northwest Forest Pass, National Forest Recreation Day Pass, or America the Beautiful Pass.
Wilderness regulations apply in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. Such restrictions include no motorized equipment, bicycles, or hang gliders to name a few. Groups larger than twelve are prohibited as well as caching or leaving equipment or supplies for longer than 72 hours. Most applicable to hikers is the fact that shortcutting a switchback on any trail is also a violation of wilderness regulations. For a complete list of wilderness regulations applicable to those within the forest, visit the Umatilla National Forest website.
At the trailhead, there is an ADA accessible vault toilet, picnic tables, hitching rails, and stock trough. No potable water or trash collection available in the area. Pack in and pack out.
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.