Rocky Ford/Crab Creek


Why? Fine scabland creek and basalt.

Season: Year-round.

Ease: Moderate. It’s 3 miles each way on the west side of the highway, 1 mile each way on the east. Doing both isn’t necessary.

Crab Creek is a lovely waterway to walk along, at least in the winter and early spring. And as long as you walk the “trails” that are down by the creek instead of the old jeep trail.

While the walking close to the creek can be entertaining, it’s lovely. The vegetation, at least in February, is brown. If the sky is blue, the creek is the same. There are basalt cliffs and outcrops aplenty. At the right time, birds would be numerous, and there should be deer and other mammals there, too.

The “fun“ part of walking the creek is the “trail.” Cause there really isn’t one. You think you’re walking a trail, and it just disappears. Then another reappears. Or two or three. Sometimes fainter, sometimes more heavily used.

Given the large amount of cow pie decoration, I had visions of levitating bovines, lifting up here and dropping down to walk again there. Or perhaps they parachuted in, and then levitated. It was a source of amusement.

But not a problem. The area along the creek is a place that it would be hard to get lost in. You have the creek on one side, and basalt and slightly higher ground on the other.

To complete your hike, you have two choices. You can turn around and walk back the way you came. Or, you can head up to the higher ground and the jeep trail. We did the latter at about 3 ¼ miles in, at the last gully before the creek makes a turn to the south. It’s a gentle, long gully, and after a few minutes, a fence line was visible. The jeep trail was on our side of it, a farm field on the other.

The jeep trail walks ok, certainly easier than parts of the “trails” along the creek. But for most of the way, it’s not nearly as scenic – though the last 1½ miles had nice views of the creek and surrounding country.

Trail note: The jeep trail is what’s shown on and the BLM map. Best Desert Hikes Washington shows that and the “trail” along the creek. It also shows a connection after the creek’s turn south, but we didn’t walk that far.

We also didn’t check out the short trail on the east side out of the parking lot. Since it’s another old road, I am pretty certain it’s easy to follow.

Directions: Take exit 231 off Interstate 90. Head right as you exit on Danekas Road. In 1.3 miles, turn right onto Hills Road (AKA Harrington-Tokia Road) and drive north for 6.1 more miles. The BLM parking lot is on the right, just after the road crosses Crab Creek. There’s also a parking lot a few yards up the road on the left, with a camping area that has water but no toilet facilities.

To walk along the creek, go under the bridge on the footpath. To walk west on the jeep road, cross the highway and head up the hill on the old road. To walk east, head out of the parking lot in that direction.

Information: BLM Spokane, (509) 536-1200

Map:  As of this writing, this site and its map are not on the BLM website site, If it is added, then it would be under “Recreation” and then “Recreation Sites.” There is a map on a board at the trailhead that you also can get at the BLM Spokane office, but it shows only the jeep trail, which is also what’s shown at (Search on Sprague, WA, and then move west to find Crab Creek).