Mount Misery Trail

NOTE: The Mount Misery Trail burned in Green Ridge Fire of August 2021. It may be a few years before this area recovers for recreational use.

Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 8.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 560’
Trailhead Elevation: 5,860’
Best Season: June through September
Driving Access: Any vehicle, with care,
   once access road is snow-free and dry

Plus Points
• A scenic rim hike with wide overviews of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area
• Short side trips lead to dramatic rock outcrops and even better wilderness views
• The trail passes through a mix of open "balds" and thick groves of subalpine fir
• Wildflowers into mid-summer, including lupine, cone flower, aster and paint brush
• Lots of elk sign along the rim, with elk sightings a possibility if one is stealthy
• A cross-country ramble to picturesque, stunted subalpine firs at hike's end

Minus Points
• Some steep sections of the trail are poorly designed, lacking switchbacks
• Trail gets a lot of horse and mule traffic, especially as Fall hunting season approaches
• Afternoon thunderstorms present a lightning hazard along the exposed rim

Download (PDF, 857 KB): Photos of Mount Misery Trail
Download (PDF, 763 KB): Topo Map for Mount Misery Trail
Download (GPX, 1 KB): GPS Points for Mount Misery Trail
Download (PDF, 839 KB): Road Map for Mount Misery Trail

Trail Notes
Map of Mount Misery Trail
The trailhead is at an overlook off Road 4030, in the shadow of Diamond Peak. The trail climbs gradually west behind the rim, through downed firs and stands of western larch. At 0.4 miles, the trail emerges from the trees into a small saddle at the wilderness boundary, where one has the first panoramic vistas over the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. The route then continues west on the bed of an old road, through thick subalpine firs. At 0.8 miles, the trail crests the first open bald, where two rock cairns mark a junction with the Bear Creek Trail on the right (north). About 30 yards back east from these cairns (GPS Point 1), a faint, unmarked trail branches left (south) through the trees to Diamond Peak. This 0.5-mile side trip is worth the climb for the spectacular views.

Back on the main trail, the route drops steeply down to Diamond Spring Camp in a shady saddle.
Ignore the Melton Fork Trail branching off to the left (south) here and continue climbing west up onto a long ridge with open balds. For the next mile, the trail is mostly level as it winds through alternating balds and thick firs. Wildflowers are abundant on these balds into mid-summer. This section has wonderful views south over the Wilderness, some right from the trail and others from rocky overlooks just off the trail.

At 3.1 miles, the trail drops steeply down the ridge to Sheephead Camp in another forested saddle. Beyond this saddle, the trail climbes up to another mostly bald ridge, known as Sheephead Ridge. At 3.6 miles (GPS Point 2), just where the trail levels off after the climb up from Sheephead Camp, the route leaves the main trail and climbs southwest above the rock cliffs on the south side of Sheephead Ridge. Staying above the cliffs, one then contours west through the open balds surrounding the ridge top. There are wonderful views here over the rugged Third Creek, Trout Creek and Crooked Creek drainages to the south and this can make a nice lunch spot.

Continuing to contour west and north around Sheephead Ridge, one soon finds striking subalpine firs that are 3'-4' in diameter, but only 30'-40' tall. These are very old trees that have been stunted by the wind stress on this exposed ridge. Look for abundant signs of elk in this area. Continuing north cross-country, one soon intersects the Mount Misery Trail again (at GPS Point 3), which can be followed east back to the trailhead.

Road to Trailhead
From Hwy 12 in the town of Pomeroy, WA, turn south on 15th Street and follow the paved road south, which eventually becomes Peola Road and then Mountain Road. At 15 miles, the pavement ends at the Forest boundary, where the route becomes gravel Forest Road 40. Follow Road 40 for about 16.5 miles to a prominent junction with Road 44.

NOTE: This road junction can also be reached from Asotin, WA, on the north over good gravel Road 43, and from Anatone, WA, on the east over gravel Road 4304. Both of these roads converge into Road 44, arriving at the junction from the

At this road junction, turn right (west) onto dirt Road 4030 and follow it for 4.5 miles to the trailhead sign on the left. The last 2.5 miles of this road are a bit rough, with a few exposed rocks, but passenger cars should be able to negotiate it with care. A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead.

Camping Options
The nearest developed camping area is the USFS Misery Spring Campground, 0.3 miles south on Road 020 off Road 4030, 4.7 driving miles east of the trailhead. This is a pleasant, forested campground with 5 gravel pads suitable for any type of camping setup, each with a picnic table and fire ring. There is a vault toilet, but no drinking water and no camping fees. Many windthrown subalpine firs (past and potential) were cleared from this campground in 2013.

A second developed camping area, the USFS Wickiup Campground, is found off Road 43, about 8 driving miles east of the trailhead. This has 7 campsites in the trees on pullouts off the road, suitable for anything from trailers to tents. There is a vault toilet, but no drinking water or camping fees. However, these campsites don't have much privacy from main Road 43.

As best we know, there are no developed, potable water sources in this part of the Umatilla National Forest — so campers need to bring enough drinking water for their stay.

Agency Contact: Umatilla National Forest, Pomeroy District, (509) 843-1891

DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but the authors do not guarantee that it is either current or correct. The reader assumes full responsibility for any use of this information, and is encouraged to contact local public land agencies to inquire about current conditions before traveling.

Page last updated: 11/25/13