Rock Creek


Why? The best in scablands scenery.

Season: Year-round.

Ease: Moderate. The basic out and back hike can be up to 10 miles, but the elevation change is small.

The first time I hiked along Rock Creek from Breeden Road toward Escure Ranch, I started out expecting to see fine water in the creek as well as in the falls above the bridge over it. Beyond that, I figured it’d be a nice outing. What I didn’t expect was to be blown away by what’s arguably the best scenery in the area.

What made it special was a combination of things, the first and foremost being the large basalt outcrops in the distance to the south. They – or some of them – are the same ones you see from the other side at the Ranch, from closer up. In the distance, they are like some kind of basalt divide that dominates the distant horizon. They add a depth to the scenery that I’ve not seen before. Of course, the creek itself was lovely, especially when the sun came out and the sky was blue and the creek the same. The ground sort of undulated, with the expected basalt outcrops of all sizes in profusion. The vegetation was standard for February – tan and brown and low. The sky was not – it was what’s termed “threatening,” which means that there were clouds of varying colors and intensities, precipitation visible in the distance and not-so-distance, and occasional blue patches and even sun. A sky like that makes for a certain amount of uncertainty in one’s hike as well as fantastic pictures. Our precipitation came about a third of the way through the hike and in the form of Styrofoam-like hail in a light dusting that served to emphasize the landscape with highlights. It was gorgeous, a place I look forward to returning to even if the sky isn’t as interesting. The only negative was that the way we hiked it, our outing started and ended with 1½ miles of walking along Breeden Road. At another time of year, the road would be dryer and one would be able to drive to closer to the bridge and the actual trailhead just east of it. Taking that 3+ miles off the total hike would allow for what I think would be a premier circle hike (see Connections, below). The hike follows a double track for much of the way indicated as trail on the map. However, given that the area is grazed and most probably also host to deer and other wildlife, there are narrow trails aplenty. We started by following some of the latter and hiking relatively close to the creek for as long as we could. Then we headed up the hill and around a large outcrop and stayed more or less on the double track for the rest of the outbound hike. We stopped when the track topped out with views of the Escure Ranch and the road to it and the trailhead for Towell Falls. In all honesty, it’s the walk in that direction that’s the most scenic. Heading back to the bridge didn’t have the basalt divide. But it’s still a fine walk along a fine creek.

Directions: Take Highway 23 west out of Steptoe to just past milepost 31 and turn left on Davis Road. Drive 6.8 miles and turn left on George Knott Road. Breedon Road is on the right in 1.6 miles. 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. Breedon Road is on the left at 39.7 miles from Colfax.

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. It does not show the trail on the west side of the creek, from Perch Lake south, but the topo maps do show it and part of it is visible from the hike on the east side. These maps are sometimes available at the ranch trailhead or always available from the Spokane office. Note that their maps call it Gordon Knott Road rather than Jordan Knott.

Connections: There are two ways to make a circle hike out of this trail plus a road or another trail, neither of which I have done. First, if you continue farther and walk down to the road into the Ranch, you could walk the 2 ½ miles of that road back to Jordan Knott Road, then ½ mile+ along that back to Breeden. But I think the best hike would be to drive down Breeden before you start hiking, to as close to the bridge over Rock Creek as you can get. Then, hike this trail and the access road down to the Ranch, cross the bridge over the creek and hike north from there along the trail on that side of Rock Creek to Perch Lake. From there, you can walk to Breeden Road, turn right, and return to your car. As near as I can tell, that would total about the same 10 miles but without the road walking. Obviously, you also can do the circle starting at the Towell Falls Trailhead at Escure Ranch.