Okanogan Highlands Hikes

Location Map of Okanogan Highlands Hikes
Bounded by the Okanogan River on the west and the Kettle River Range on the east and sandwiched north-to-south between British Columbia and the Colville Indian Reservation, the Okanogan Highlands are a sprawling, sparsely-populated region of rounded, glaciated ridges and valleys, with some of the least-known trails in Washington. For hikers, the biggest attraction is the large, wilderness-quality roadless areas on Forest Service lands managed for conservation. With good trails, easy driving access and convenient campgrounds nearby, these roadless area hikes are certainly worth the trip to this lightly-visited corner of the state. Gas, supplies and services are all available in the town of Republic, WA.

The most striking feature of this landscape is the rounded, rocky ridges and summits ground down by the continental ice sheet during the last Ice Age. With few elevations over 6,000', the smooth contours of the
topography lend themselves to easy hiking on both established trails and cross-country rambles, all mostly snow-free relatively early in the season. Though thickly forested with fir and larch on some exposures, the landscape has "balds" and open, grassy slopes giving excellent views of the surrounding country. Since opening to homesteading and mining in the 1890s, this remote region has changed little and still feels very much like a world apart, which time has mostly forgotten.

Download (PDF, 861 KB): Location Map of Okanogan Highlands Hikes
Download (PDF, 888 KB): Photos of the Okanogan Highlands

Since the Okanogan Highlands are several hours drive from Spokane, the only major population center in Northeast Washington, expect to find plenty of solitude here. One can spend an entire week hiking in the area and not see another soul on the trails and back roads. For such a lightly-traveled region, however, the Forest Service trails, roads and campgrounds are surprisingly well-maintained and make visitors feel welcome.

  • Bamber Ridge Hike
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The five day hikes we've chosen offer a good sampling of diverse habitats in the Okanogan Highlands. The 4-mile (one-way) Bamber Ridge hike climbs old logging roads to the ridge crest, then treks cross-county along the crest with panoramic vistas. The Virginia Lilly Loop Trail is a little-visited gem, winding 4 miles through stands of old-growth larch and ponderosa, with interspersed ridge-top views. The Maple Mountain Trail provides backdoor access to the Clackamas Mountain Roadless Area, through uncut larch and fir to summit vistas. Two of our hikes explore the Thirteenmile Roadless Area — one a 3.4-mile hike (one-way) through the granite cliffs of Thirteenmile Canyon and the other a 3.1-mile ramble on a ridge trail to the scenic summit of Thirteenmile Mountain.

Bamber Ridge Hike
Virginia Lilly Loop Trail
Maple Mountain Hike
Thirteenmile Mountain Hike
Thirteenmile Canyon Trail

Okanogan Highlands Hike Location Map

Page last updated: 10/30/15