Cabin Gulch


Why? A fine early or late season hike

Season: June through November

Ease: Moderate to difficult, depending on how far you walk. It’s about 2 ½ miles one-way, end to end.

I would hike up Cabin Gulch yearly for the simple reason that on my first such hike, I spent almost a minute watching a gorgeous cinnamon-colored black bear on the other side of the creek. Other Umatilla bears I’ve seen over the years have always taken off so fast that I almost wasn’t sure I’d really seen them. This one was amazingly relaxed, so there was no doubt at all that I’d seen a bear.

The hike up Cabin is pretty straightforward once you cross the stream at its base. It’s a nice trail – looks like an old road, actually – up the south side of the draw, never very steep but never very flat, either. There are nice trees along the way, and I’m sure there are flowers in season. Unlike nearby Sheep Gulch, which the Fordyce Trail traverses, it’s not nearly so wet and lush. But it’s nice.

The trail tops out at an old road after about 2 1/2 miles. There are good sitting spots there if you’re ready for lunch. And a couple of options besides turning around and hiking back down the way you came.

You can take a left and hike along the road for a mile or so till you come to the Fordyce Trail on the left, then head down that way. You need to be looking for that trail, and if you’re so doing, it’s not hard to find. Or, you can head out on top along Sheep Ridge and cut back down to the trail you came in on at some later point. I did that on my first hike up Cabin, and it was a nice way to get some open country and views. We walked about a mile along the top, downhill to a small saddle and slightly up before heading down to the left and connecting. There was some bushwhacking involved, but nothing serious.

Trail Note: I have hiked the trail in the spring and in the late fall. In the spring, you might get your feet wet in the stream. In the fall, it wasn’t an issue, though we were late enough to hike through snow most of the way.

Directions: Turn right 14.3 miles up the Asotin Creek Road. The Cabin Gulch trailhead is 6.1 miles later, in an open area on the left.

Note: The Asotin Creek Road is usually gated between December 1 and March 31 each year about ½ mile before the right turn, which is why you should wait until after then (or before, depending on which end of the year you’re coming from, so to speak) to do this hike.

Information: Pomeroy Ranger District, UNF, (509) 843-1891.

Maps: USGS Peola and Pinkham Butte, Washington.

Connections: You can connect Cabin Gulch to the Fordyce Trail as noted above, quite easily. The combined hike makes for a total of 7 to 8 miles including the short road walk in between.