I hiked to the top of Badger Mountain last week.
Latitude: 46.233468 Longitude: -119.318352
Only about 10 minutes from West Richland, Washington, the hill rises to an altitude of about 1,565 feet above sea level and provides a wonderful vista of all the Tri-City region. The Columbia River winds a sweeping ribbon north, past Handford. Vineyards give a frilly edge to the west side, just starting to turn a light green with the coming of our spring weather.
About halfway up the hill an engraved granite rock perches on the edge of the trail. It marks the highest level reached by prehistoric floods, creating an ancient, long-gone lake, now called Lake Lewis. The lake slowly ebbed away, the melting chunks of ice leaving behind huge boulders knows as "erratics". These erratic boulders can be seen on mountain slopes in the area.
Cheerful yellow flowers brighten the slopes with a few surprises. I've never seen blooming sagebrush before! Balsamroot is a old favorite of mine, and I'm hoping to learn what the others are.
Beautiful weather, although quite windy at the summit, made the hike quite pleasureable. The longer, gentler trail is about 2.2 miles long...took us about an hour with all our oohing and ahhing over the flowers. The walk down is faster if you follow the access road that straddles the spine of the hill. Plenty of parking at the trailhead, too.
We didn't see any badgers, although the hill is named after them. Must have been plentiful in the past. Lots of little ground squirrels along the gravel road leading to the trailhead.
Badger Mountain is a little gem in the midst of our high desert plateau. I'd recommend it for a great day trip.
TRAILHEAD FOR CANYON TRAIL:
- Take Exit #5A onto WA-240 East.
- After 1.3 miles, take the exit for Columbia Park Trail. Head west on Columbia Park Trail.
- After 1.1 miles, turn left onto Leslie Road.
- After 1.1 miles, turn right onto Gage Road.
- After 0.2 miles (just beyond Starbucks/Albertons), turn right onto Keene Road.
- After 1.7 miles, turn left onto Shockley Road.
- Follow Shockley Road to its end. Turn left onto Queensgate Road.
- Go up the hill. Follow the brown-colored directional sign(s). Park in the parking lot, next to the cinder-block pumphouse.
- Start hiking along the trail around Westcliffe Park for 0.15 miles, until reaching the base of the mountain and the official "hiker's only" trailhead.
TRAILHEAD FOR SKYLINE TRAIL:
- On I-82, take Exit #102 to Pasco/Richland.
- Take Exit #3B. Turn right onto Queensgate Drive.
- After 0.2 miles, turn left onto Duportail Street.
- After 0.4 miles, turn left onto Kennedy Road.
- After 1.4 miles, turn left onto N. Dallas Road.
- Follow N. Dallas Road south, going under the I-182 overpass and continuing to the top of a hill.
- Turn left onto 210 PR, a gravel road. Follow for 0.1 miles to the parking area for Skyline Trail.