Rock Creek Coulee Hike

Hike Rating: Moderate
Hike Length: 6.8 miles for full loop
Elevation Gain: 185’
Trailhead Elevation: 1,470’
Best Season: April-May and September
Driving Access: Any vehicle, with care

Plus Points
• A scenic walk in a coulee excavated by Ice Age mega-floods, with a perennial stream
• An optional return loop through upland channeled scablands, with basalt buttes
• Mule deer, coyotes and red-tailed hawks overhead are commonly spotted
• Spring wildflowers, including wild iris, persist in wet depressions into late May
• Historical buildings of the abandoned Escure Ranch, an early-1900s sheep operation
• Easy walking in relative solitude along seldom-used jeep roads and cow trails

Minus Points
• The full loop hike requires basic map reading and route finding skills
• Little shade or tree cover, so plan to start in the early morning on hot days
• Rattlesnakes are a possibility throughout the summer, so caution is advised

Download (PDF, 566 KB): Photos of Rock Creek Coulee Hike
Download (PDF, 760 KB): Topo Map for Rock Creek Coulee Hike
Download (GPX, 1 KB): GPS Points for Rock Creek Coulee Hike
Download (PDF, 720 KB): Road Map for Rock Creek Coulee Hike

Trail Notes
Map of Rock Creek Coulee Hike
From the trailhead, the route crosses the bridge to the Escure Ranch buildings, then follows the main dirt road winding west and north among the barns and corrals, through several steel gates (leave them as you find them). At 0.3 miles, north of the ranch buildings, the route leaves the main road and starts north on a jeep track along a fence line (GPS Point 1). The jeep track passes through a wet swale, then a wire gate and crests a low ridge to the north. This double track trail is fairly easy to follow as it passes through basalt buttes and grassy draws. Look for wild irises here in Spring.

At 1.1 miles (GPS Point 2), the route intersects another jeep track running downhill from the west. Turn right (north) on this track and follow it to Rock Creek below. For the next 1.5 miles,
the jeep track winds north, first along Rock Creek, then through a second wire gate, finally becoming a cow trail that veers away from the creek into an old flood channel. Look for huge flood bars here with melon-sized gravel! At 3.0 miles, one arrives back at the creek to find a few shady shrubs and trees below scenic basalt bluffs. This can be a good hike destination for an out-and-back trip, if you return as you came.

For a return hike that explores the uplands, follow the old jeep road that angles up the grassy hillside to the south. At the top of the hill, where the jeep track makes a sweeping bend to the northwest, is a fence corner with a third wire gate (GPS Point 3). Pass through this gate, descending west cross-country into the canyon behind it, to a circular marsh with giant reeds. Past this marsh, on the bench above it to the west, one meets a prominent cow trail running north-south (GPS Point 4).

Turn left (south) onto this trail and follow it for about a mile through channeled scablands and grasslands to a steel feed trough on a low rise (GPS Point 5). Look for mima mounds around the steep basalt buttes in this section. From the steel trough, the cow trail continues southeast over grassy knolls and through old flood channels for about a mile until it intersects the main east-west ranch road. Cross the fence to the road, then turn left (east) and walk the dirt road back to the ranch buildings and trailhead.

Road to Trailhead
From Interstate 90, take Exit 245 and head south through the town of Sprague on State Route 23. Drive about 12 miles south from Hwy 90 on Route 23 and, at a sharp left bend in the highway, turn right onto gravel Davis Road. Drive 6.8 miles to just past the grain elevators at the old townsite of Revere, then turn left (south) onto Jordan-Knott Road.

Drive south 2.2 miles, crossing the bridge over Rock Creek, and then turn right into the BLM Rock Creek Management Area. Drive another 2.4 miles on this sometimes rocky dirt road to the trailhead and camping area. When it's dry, this last 2.4 miles of road should be fine for most passenger cars and travel trailers, if care is taken in the rough spots.

Camping Options
The nearest camping is right at the trailhead in the BLM Rock Creek Campground. Here, in a flat meadow on a stream terrace between the coulee walls, are a vault toilet and six graveled parking pads, suitable for any camping trailer. Tent campers will find grassy spots as well, but there are no shade trees here. This campground is open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis, with no fees charged. There are stock corrals nearby with a stream-fed water trough, but no potable water is provided. Gas, supplies and drinking water are available in the town of Sprague, WA.

Agency Contact: Spokane BLM District, (509) 536-1200

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: 11/5/13