Kamiak Butte: 100 Classic Hike of Washington

Exploren Borgen on the top of Kamiak Butte

The Kamiak Butte on the Pine Ridge Trail brings hikers to panoramic views of the Palouse region from the second highest point in Whitman County. The trail is accessible year-round, but the best time to visit is from early spring when flowers are blooming to late fall when trees are changing colors. 

General Information:

Region: Eastern Washington

Distance: 2.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 700′ gain

When to go: Year-Round

Pass/Permit?: None – Donations Welcomed

Dogs Allowed?: Yes

Bathroom: Yes 

Not sure what to bring hiking? Check out this post: 10 Essentials of Hiking

Kamiak Butte County Park offers 5 miles of trail for visitors to enjoy plus picnic tables, camping sites, and a self-guided nature walk. On the Pine Ridge Trail hikers can bring the Self-Guided Nature Walk pamphlet with them to explore the 150 unique species of plants and animals on the Butte. This pamphlet can be found at the trailhead or here. If you choose to take a pamphlet at the trailhead, I would encourage you to either return it when you’re done or leave a small donation so the county can continue to provide these pamphlets.

Beginning of Pine Ridge Trail

The Kamiak Butte Trail, also known as the Pine Ridge Trail, takes hikers through a dense forest of Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, and Western Larch. If you’re unfamiliar with Larches, they are a deciduous conifer that turns a magnificent golden color in the fall. However what is most interesting about this butte is that the dense forest is only found on the North Facing Slope. Due to lack of direct sunlight from the steepness of the butte slope, snow melt is extremely slow allowing for the underbrush and trees to have water access as well as a cooler temperature throughout the year.

Here’s another 100 Classic Hike of Washington in Eastern Washington: White Bluffs

Lookout from Kamiak Butte Trail

The Pine Ridge Trail brings hikers up a gradual slope before reaching the top of the butte. The back, north facing side, has a steeper descent.

A butte is a tall, flat-topped rock with steep-sides. Created through the process of erosion and the wearing away of the rock sides.

Hiker on Pine Ridge Trail

Surrounded by farmland, the Kamiak Butte seems to rise out of no-where. It provides picturesque views of the surrounding area. 

Even though this trail is still accessible in the winter, hikers are cautioned to wear traction devices. The cool temperatures and regularly used trail causes any snow on the trail to become packed down and icy. When I completed this trail in January 2023 there was no immediate snow in sight. However, after only walking about a quarter mile up the trail, the full length of the trail was slick and challenging to navigate. Navigating down the trail along the north side was verging on treacherous. With no traction devices, I was sliding down the north side of the narrow trail that was covered with a foot of ice the entire way. 

Snow on the north side of Kamiak Butte Pine Ridge Trail

Many hikers who also did not have traction devices were holding onto trees to avoid sliding down the hill while hikers passed on the sides of them. When the local park employees put out a sign that says “Traction Devices Should Be Used on the Trail”, take it seriously. 

I found this trail to be fun, accessible, and a great look into some of the hikes that Eastern Washington has to offer.

Should Kamiak Butte be a 100 Classic Hike of Washington?

I believe that Kamiak Butte Trail should be a part of the 100 Classic Hikes of Washington. The trail was well maintained and provided a unique vantage point for hikers to take in the surrounding area. The Kamiak County Park is thoughtfully cared for and loved by many in the surrounding area.

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