Sawtooth Ridge Trail

Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 7.4 miles roundtrip (variable)
Elevation Change: 350’
Trailhead Elevation: 5,630’
Best Season: June through September
Driving Access: Any vehicle, with care

Plus Points
• A ridge line hike with spectacular overviews of the Upper Wenaha River watershed
• Trail is cow-free and entirely within the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area
• Prime summer elk habitat, with the possibility for elk sightings if one is stealthy
• Wildflowers into July, including yellow arnica, penstemon, blue larkspur and columbine
• Gnarled subalpine firs along the ridge, exhibiting
krummholz formations
• Overall, a well-defined trail that appears regularly cleared of downed trees

Minus Points
• The further one hikes down the ridge, the less well-defined the trail becomes
• Trail has few water bars or drains, so it is deeply eroded in some spots
• Afternoon thunderstorms can present a lightning hazard on the exposed ridge

Download (PDF, 748 KB): Photos of Sawtooth Ridge Trail
Download (PDF, 886 KB): Topo Map for Sawtooth Ridge Trail
Download (GPX, 1 KB): GPS Points for Sawtooth Ridge Trail
Download (PDF, 814 KB): Road Map for Sawtooth Ridge Trail

Trail Notes
Map of Sawtooth Ridge Trail
For the first mile, the trail gradually climbs and descends, following the top of a heavily-forested ridge through thick stands of subalpine fir and grand fir. In July, yellow arnica flowers blanket the forest floor. In the second mile, the trail continues up and down along the ridge, but the forests are sparser and they alternate with open "balds" — treeless, grassy slopes with buckwheat, white soapwort, blue penstemon and bush lupine. At 1.6 miles, the first views open up over the North Fork Wenaha River drainage to the west.

At 2.4 miles, the trail enters a 150-acre forested bench known as Burnt Flat (with no sign of recent fires). A small rock cairn here marks a trail junction (GPS Point 1) and one bears right (southwest) to continue the ridge hike. Past Burnt Flat, the trail drops about 150' in elevation to a bald notch in the ridge and then becomes a bit harder to follow. For the next 0.5 miles, the trail follows the ridge line south, staying just east of the crest.

At 3.3 miles (GPS Point 2), one comes to a second trail junction at a small cairn in a wide saddle. The main trail leads left, down into the trees, but a small game trail leads right up the bald ridge line. Follow this game trail as it climbs the open ridge ahead, then descends, staying on the ridge crest. In about 0.4 miles, one comes to a sharp, rocky outcrop on the ridge with spectacular, panoramic vistas south of the Wenaha watershed and the snow-capped Wallowa Mountains beyond. Look for a shady spot under the mountain mahogany here to enjoy lunch and a rest. Return the way you came.

Road to Trailhead
From Hwy 12 in the town of Dayton, WA, turn south on 4th Street, then drive 23.2 miles up the North Fork Touchet River canyon, past the Bluewood Ski Area, to a road junction. This road is paved to the ski area and becomes Road 64 at the Forest boundary.

At the road junction, turn left (east) onto Road 46 and drive 3.7 miles to where dirt Road 420 branches to the right (south). Follow Road 420 (Burnt Flat Road) through a long clearing, then up a short steep incline, for 0.2 miles to the trailhead sign. If your vehicle can't negotiate the steep incline, just park below it and walk the final 0.1 miles to the trailhead.

Camping Options
The nearest developed camping area is the Godman Campground on Forest Road 46, about 6 driving miles east of the trailhead. On a forested bench above the road, there a 8 campsites for tents or small camping trailers (say up to 16') and a vault toilet, but no drinking water. Campsites are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis from mid-June to late October, depending on snow conditions.

If self-contained, with one's own water and sanitation, there are dispersed camping sites at Burnt Flat Corral, along Road 420 leading to the trailhead. These consist of tent sites in the trees along this access road and also travel trailer sites on open pullouts next to the road.

Finally, there are more dispersed camping sites along Road 46, from its junction with Road 64 on the west all the way east to the Godman Campground. These are on the short spur roads leading off Road 46 and mostly consist of pullouts in the trees.

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: 11/19/13