Tucannon River Trail

Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 8.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 525’
Trailhead Elevation: 3,580’
Best Season: June through September
Driving Access: Any vehicle, with care

Plus Points
• A pleasant streamside hike through primeval forests of douglas fir and true fir
• Though not wilderness in name, the Tucannon River canyon is wilderness in fact
• Pristine forests along the canyon bottom are unlogged, unroaded and ungrazed
• Diverse forest understory, including alder, thimbleberry, gooseberry and wild rose
• Sound of rushing water throughout the hike, with strong flow into late summer
• A well-built and well-maintained trail makes for easy hiking

Minus Points
• Fingers of wildfire once reached into the canyon, leaving patches of burned trees
• First two miles of trail is popular, so solitude is not guaranteed in this section

Download (PDF, 791 KB): Photos of Tucannon River Trail
Download (PDF, 879 KB): Topo Map for Tucannon River Trail
Download (PDF, 853 KB): Road Map for Tucannon River Trail

Trail Notes
Map of Tucannon River Trail
The trail leaves the parking area at the end of Road 4712, crosses a handsome steel footbridge over Sheep Creek, then follows an abandoned road bed for the next half mile, staying about 200' above the stream. For the next mile, a well-built trail continues along the north side of the canyon, 50'-100' above the stream, through stands of douglas fir. Fingers of fire once came down this hillside, killing some patches of trees and leaving others untouched. Look for violet-pink fireweed blooming along these sections.

At 1.7 miles, the trail descends to the river bank, where one can cool off amid a tangle of streamside alder, thimbleberry, gooseberry and wild rose. For the next two miles, the trail continues along the north side of the canyon, staying above the stream, but still within earshot of the rushing water. The further one travels up the canyon, the larger and more primeval the forest becomes, with lichens hanging from 3'-4' diameter trees over thick ferns. Notice where bears have torn into the rotten logs, looking for grubs.

At about 4.0 miles, the trail again descends to the river bank, at the confluence with Bear Creek. This is a wild jumble of downed logs, rushing water, luxuriant undergrowth and huge firs — making it a fun place to explore. For a nice lunch spot, one can cross over the shallow Tucannon River on a downed log, then explore south up Bear Creek to enchanting pools and streamside thickets. Return the way you came.

Road to Trailhead
From Hwy 12, about 12 miles north of Dayton, WA, turn south on the Tucannon River Road. Follow this road (which becomes Road 47 at the Forest boundary) for about 32 miles to a road junction, just before a bridge over the Tucannon River. At this road junction, turn left (east) onto Road 4712 and follow it for 4.5 miles to the trailhead parking area.

Road 47 is paved for about 28 miles, from Hwy 12 to the USFS Tucannon Campground, then good gravel for about 4 miles to the road junction. Road 4712 is a mostly single lane dirt road, with exposed rocks in spots — but it can be traveled by any passenger car, with care, when dry. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.

Camping Options
For tent campers only: The USFS Ladybug Campground is along Road 4712, about 2.3 miles below the trailhead. This site is best suited for tents, as Road 4712 is too narrow and rocky for most camping trailers. There are 7 campsites on a forested flat above the river, plus a vault toilet, but no drinking water. Fees were $8.00 per night in 2013.

For all campers: The next nearest camping area is just below the start of Road 4712, off gravel Road 47, about 4.6 miles from the trailhead. This site (Campground No. 9) is within the Wooten Wildlife Area managed by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. It's a large forested camping area spread across the floodplain of the Tucannon River, with about 12 sites and two vault toilets, but no drinking water.
There are no camping fees, but a Washington State Discover Pass is required.

Finally, there is the USFS Tucannon Campground on Road 47 at the end of the pavement, about 8.5 driving miles north of the trailhead. This is a popular, forested site along the Tucannon River, under big ponderosas and rocky canyon bluffs. There are 18 campsites that will accommodate almost any camping setup, with two vault toilets, but no drinking water. Potable water can be obtained at the Tucannon Guard Station, about a mile north of the campground on Road 47. Fees were $8.00 per night in 2013.

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: 11/21/13