Location: Kamiak Butte County Park in Whitman County (Outside Colfax)
Roundtrip: 3.5 miles
High Point: 3,641 feet
Elevation gain: 900 feet
SJ Rating: Excellent
Access: US 95 S to Colfax. Turn L onto WA 272. In 5 mi., turn R onto Clear Creek Rd. In 7 mi., take sharp R onto Fugate Rd. (#5100). Turn L into Kamiak Butte County Park in .5 mi.
The moment my parents drove away after dropping me off at Washington State University in Pullman, I made my way up to the 12th floor of Orton Hall and became mesmerized by the way the wheat danced across the Palouse. That sight became my escape and my peace during my time at Wazzu, and the infatuation with the Palouse never faded.
The Pine Ridge trail is so spectacular that it's been added to the National Trails System. The ridge offers 360 degree views of the Palouse and depending on the time of year you visit, the colors will shift, fade and brighten. The dry side of the butte is your typical desert...which means sun in your face and a chance to pretend it's springtime in the dead of winter should you visit now. The north side of the butte has been taken over by lush forests...which means the wildlife is abundant as well. In fact, this park contains over 150 species of animals and vegetation...which equates to a very beautiful hike - any time of the year.
The first 1.5 miles take you up to the ridge. Bring Yaktrax this time of the year as it can be incredibly icy. The trail is wide and the switchbacks are easily manageable otherwise. From here you reach that view. And you can meander the ridge about .5 miles to take in every angle.
I managed to wander off the trail as per usual, so my hike ended up being closer to 4.5 miles, but finding a rock to sit on in the blinding sun while the pup ran through the tall grass made it worth it. I highly recommend staying for the sunset as well - just don't forget the park closes at dusk, so your hike down needs to be a bit speedy. You can return the way you came or take the back loop down to the campground. BEWARE - it is narrow and VERY ICY this time of year. Yaktrax HIGHLY recommended.