- Your Public Lands
Umatilla National Forest (Walla Walla Ranger District)
- What To Do
- Hiking/ Biking
The Umatilla Rim Trail (#3080) is a choose-your-own-adventure type of trail. There are a handful of access points thanks to a number of trail intersections. We like to start at the Horseshoe Prairie Trailhead and end ten miles down the trail at the Ninemile Trailhead, which provides an easy to find and convenient pick up point. If your cardio is on point, take the trail back ten miles to the Horseshoe Prairie Trailhead. You could also ride Summit Road two miles back to HWY 204, and turn left and ride along HWY 204 for 3/4 of a mile to the Horseshoe Prairie Trailhead. The shoulder is actually quite wide along the highway, which makes the effort much less intimidating.
Roughly 1.5 miles before exiting at Ninemile Trailhead, or 1.5 miles into the trail if you choose that as your starting point, you will cross the Nine Mile Ridge Trail (#3072). That trail enters the Wilderness area so only foot traffic and horseback travelers may use it. If you are looking for a longer ride, you can continue past the Ninemile Trailhead to the junction with the Lake Creek Trail (#3079) roughly four miles further, which is where the Umatilla Rim Trail officially ends. Once on the Lake Creek Trail, it is four miles to the Lake Creek Trailhead on NF-035. It is possible to continue past the Lake Creek Trail junction if you choose. The Umatilla Rim Trail becomes Buck Mountain Trail (#3075) and continues for a few more miles before it crosses into the Wilderness area. If you are on wheels, you will have to backtrack.
Consider downloading the Motor Vehicle Use Map. This part of the forest is reflected on Maps 13 & 14. 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. From Walla Walla, take HWY 11 south through Milton-Freewater, OR. Travel another five miles and turn left on Winn Road. Follow this little backroad for two miles and then turn left to connect with HWY 204. Travel east on HWY 204 for approximately 26 miles to the Horseshoe Prairie Trailhead on your right (NF-050), directly across the highway from Andies Prairie Sno-Park. Travel up the gravel road a short distance and turn right on NF-020; it is the first road to the right. There is a parking area across from the Horseshoe Prairie Trailhead.
- When To Go
Being atop the Blue Mountains, this trail opens when the snow melts in late spring or early summer. The trail may be a bit muddy post snow melt, and there are a few creek crossing that may still be flowing. Plan on getting wet and muddy if you are an early goer.
- What To Expect
There are lots of options and details associated with this trail due to its length and intersection with so many other trails. To simplify, we recommend starting at the Horseshoe Prairie Trailhead and simply start walking or biking. The forest starts to open up after a few creek crossings, and there is a wonderful meadow about three miles down the trail. Recreate for as many miles as you please and turn back. Once you are familiar with the area, and since the Horseshoe Prairie and Ninemile Trailheads are so close to each other, consider using a buddy system for convenient transportation. Because it is so close to town, it is easy to play outside for a while and still complete a few chores at home. Accessing the trail via the Ninemile Trailhead is equally as nice, and actually might provide more open viewscapes within the first few initial miles. The Ninemile Trailhead is not the start of the Umatilla Rim Trail. To head toward the Horseshoe Prairie Trailhead travel north, which is straight, from the trailhead.
This trail borders the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness area and intersects other trails that go into the Wilderness area. Only foot traffic and horseback are allowed to cross this boundary, so please be mindful of this fact based on how you are recreating in the forest. For a complete list of wilderness regulations visit the Umatilla National Forest website.
Motorized vehicles: 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.
No amenities available. Pack in and pack out. Leave no trace!
- Wildlife Awareness
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.
- Field Notes
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.