Umtanum Creek is easily one of my favorite birding locations, especially in the spring when many colorful migratory birds are arriving. This is a good place to view Lazuli Buntings, Western Tanagers, and Yellow-breasted Chats. There are Western Blue Birds, Grosbeaks, American Goldfinches, Cliff Swallows, Wilson Warblers, and Olive-sided Flycatchers. It is the only place I’ve seen a Nashville Warbler. You can also find a variety of woodpeckers and raptors too, such as Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, Eagles, Northern Harriers, Prairie Falcons, Red-tail Hawks, and American Kestrels. On more than one occasion we have had Northern Harriers taking swipes at us on the trail. There are plenty of rabbits and marmots, and Bighorn sheep can sometimes be seen on the nearby slopes. The trail starts with a cool footbridge. Once you cross, you pass under or over a railroad track and then you can follow the trail along Umtanum Creek up the canyon between steep basalt ridges. The views are great.
Directions: It is a great trip from Seattle because you get to cross the Cascade mountains and experience a totally different type of terrain. To get there from Seattle, go east on I90 to exit 110. Take Interstate 82 about to Thrall Road turn right on State Route 821 into Yakima Canyon (the road follows the Yakima river through and area called the Umtanum Ridge Water Gap) for about 8 miles to the Umtanum Recreation Area (between mileposts 16 and 17). There is a gravel parking lot on the right side of the road. The drive is about 2 hours, but take your time there is lots to see along the way. Parking is $5.00 from May 15 – September 15 (fee collection box is at the parking lot).
More information about the trail: Umtanum Creek Trail
About the area: Umtanum Creek Recreation Area