Region: Eastern Washington
Distance: 4.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 1000′ Gain
When to go: Year-Round
Pass/Permit?: Discovery Pass
Dogs Allowed?: On-Leash
Bathrooms?: At Trailhead
Located in Steamboat Rock State Park in Coulee County, Washington, the park has a number of trails to offer as well as beautiful campsites throughout the park.
Not sure what to bring on your hike? Check Out: Ten Hiking Essentials
Near the end of the park road hikers will find plenty of parking spaces available along with bathrooms. The trailhead can be found across the road from the parking space. Just look for a sandy trail and a trail post!
The elevation gain of this hike is attributed to the ascent along the butte. Hikers will begin with a relatively flat, meandering trail that will bring them to the base of the Butte. With a little scrambling, hikers will find themselves on top of the butte with extensive views of the surrounding area. The trail splits off and hikers can choose to follow the path in the direction of their choosing. I chose to hike Steamboat Rock by following the trail counterclockwise.
Once on top of the steamboat rock butte, there is little elevation change. The trail follows along the outside of the butte providing hikers views of Banks Lake and Grand Coulee.
Throughout the park there are a number of deer and rabbits, which means the park is also home to predators such as bears, bobcats, and coyotes. When it comes to mammals in the park, I only saw deer. But I did see a number of eagles, crows, and ducks.
Steamboat Rock was once an island in the Columbia River bed during the Great Missoula Flood. When the flood subsided, the large basalt butte was left behind and became an important landmark for native tribes.
Want to learn about another amazing 100 Classic Hike in Washington?
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This short hike has become one of my favorites in Washington because of the unique views it has to offer. The Steamboat Rock Trail makes me feel as if I were in a different country since the scenery is unlike everything I am used to seeing in Washington. On top of the butte, I hiked past a number of deer and could see eagles circling overhead.
Should Steamboat Rock be a 100 Classic Hike of Washington?
This should absolutely be a 100 Classic Hike of Washington. The formation of the Butte is significant to the natural history of the state. Steamboat Rock has an exclusive landscape unlike anything the rest of the state has to offer and should be experienced by everyone. There are a number of butte hikes on the list but none as strikingly beautiful as this.
What else is there to do near Steamboat Rock?
After exploring this hike, I would encourage you to visit Dry Falls State Park. Just as Steamboat Rock was formed by the 200 mile stretch of the Missoula Flood, one of the largest waterfalls in the history of the United States was also formed. No longer flowing with water, Dry Falls was 3.5 miles wide with a 400 ft drop. You can stop for a quick view of Dry Falls at the overlook or enjoy a close up view of the area by doing another hike!