Escure Ranch and Breeden Road Trails


Why? Fine scablands hike, waterfalls and pocket lakes

Season: Year-round, but very hot in the summer

Ease: Moderate. Though the hike can be up to 9 miles, depending on how you hike it, the trail is very level.

The Towell Falls/Escure Ranch area has always been a draw, the hike to the Falls being one of the finest and shortest of the scablands outings.  Extending the possibilities to include the small network of trails around the Ranch area to the north and west only adds to the allure.
The almost circle that starts at the Ranch and ends on Breeden Road is more than well worth taking two cars. It’s a fine long like with detours to several lakes. It’s wonderful scabs and pocket canyons. It’s wideopen country where you expect to see deer or coyote. And heck, it’s about as level a hike as you can wish for.

My favorite spot was the waterfall area on Rock Creek. The trail crosses the creek on a bridge from which it is nicely visible. I saw them in the fall, when they were gentle, just short falls and pools. I assume that in the spring they’d be roaring.

My second favorite spot was an area perhaps ¾ of a mile long, just after the trail heads west near the start of the hike. It’s a scabby fairyland of lumps and bumps and little canyons lined by basalt cliffs and mesas – the latter being what I call the “scabs,” the isolated outcrops. If you’re into this kind of landscape, this area alone will make the trip worthwhile.

Both lakes that I visited via side trails also were at low water, but still lovely set against basalt. Wall is long, with a long basalt wall on its northeast side. Turtle is small. Both are good stopping spots for lunch or a snack or just enjoying the scenery. I bypassed Perch Lake, but was told it’s the same.

Trail Notes: The trail starts to the right, or north, through a gate in and amongst the farm buildings. It parallels Rock Creek before heading left through a couple of fine “scabs.” There are occasional side trails, but none as used as the main trail. I hiked the straight ahead fork at about 1 ½ miles in; the right will connect back near Turtle Lake. The trail turns north in another 2 miles or so. There’s an unexpected gate to climb over before the side trail to Turtle Lake which also would be your connector to the right fork back at the junction 1 ½ miles in if you wanted to do this shorter circle hike. You also need to detour a bit to see Wall Lake. The junctions after that all require a right turn, as does the side trail to Perch Lake off Breeden Road.

Directions: Take Highway 23 west out of Steptoe. Turn left on Wagner Road at 25.9 miles from there, stay left at 28.4, turn right before the butte onto George Knott Road at 32.9 and left into Rock Creek Management area, which is signed at 38.1 miles from Steptoe. It’s 2.4 miles from there to Towell Falls Trailhead. For Breeden Road, do not turn left but drive another 0.6 miles to the road on the left.
Or, continue on Highway 23 past Wagner Road to Davis Road just past milepost 31 and turn left. Drive 6.8 miles and turn left on George Knott Road. Breedon Road is on the right in 1.6 miles. For the Towell Falls and Excure Ranch Trailhead, drive another 0.6 miles and turn right. The trailhead is 2.4 miles later at the end of the driveable road.

Alternately, head out of Colfax on the Endicott Road, 3.8 miles west of town on Highway 26. Turn right on Jordan-Knott road at 27.3 miles from Colfax. Stay right at the Y at 29.5 miles, and stay on Jordan-Knott by heading left at 33.8 miles. The road to Towell Falls is on the left at 39.1 miles from Colfax and Breedon Road is 0.6 miles farther north of that road.

Information: BLM Spokane, (509) 536-1200

Map: The BLM maintains a web site, Under “Recreation,” click on “Recreation Sites,” then scroll down to “Rock Creek/Escure Ranch” to find a map and information about the Escure Ranch/Rock Creek area.

These maps are sometimes available at the ranch trailhead or always available from the Spokane office.

Connection: Although I didn’t hike it, there is a trail along Rock Creek from Perch Lake back to the Ranch. While it would make the hike a tad longer, it would undoubtedly be quite scenic and would mean only one car was necessary for the drive to the area. There also is a trail in the east side of Rock Creek that follows it back to the ranch.