Crooked Creek


Forest Service Trail #3100

Why? Great connector, or day hike from Wenaha River.

Season: March through November at the Wenaha end, June through October higher up.

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s 4 miles and 300 feet up to the Three Forks Trail from the Wenaha River, another mile and 200 feet up to Melton Creek, another 13.8 miles and 2,100 feet up from there to Indian Corral.

I see the mouth of Crooked Creek most every year, cause most every year I hike the trail along the Wenaha River to Crooked Creek and, usually, beyond. It’s a familiar spot, a comfortable spot, a place I’ve camped more times than I care to count. It’s the place I spent my first backpacking nights.

Most of those years I’ve also hiked up Crooked Creek, usually to First Cabin but sometimes beyond. It’s a gentle hike, a standard waterway trail with ups and downs, with time near the river and time above it, with time traversing drainages and time not. I’ve also hiked to it from the Three Forks Trail, once during a spring of very high runoff. The water lapped the trail in a couple of places that year, covering one of my favorite places. It’s a spot that usually sits just below the trail and in the creek, and it’s all volcanic rock. When the water level is low, you can sit on that rock and cool off and enjoy “being in” the creek. That high water year, it didn’t happen.

I’ve also seen the lightest colored black bear along this bit of Crooked Creek. We scared him off the elderberry bush he was grazing – actually, sitting in its middle, having flattened the entire bush down to the ground. He fled fast, up the hillside way above us.

But there’s a lot more to the Crooked Creek Trail than those 4 miles south of the Three Forks Trail. Miles of trail mostly in the woods, miles that cross First, Melton, Second and Third Creeks before turning north toward Indian Corral along Third and then Trout Creeks. But this is trail that is used to get somewhere else rather than as a destination, I think. Because it’s mostly woods and always down in the creek valleys except at the northern end, near Dunlop Spring and Indian Corral. When I hiked it, there even were trees in the trail itself that were at least eight to ten years old; I’m told that the trail since has been cleared.

But hiking through a few trees was well worth the effort. At a campsite somewhere along Trout Creek, I was serenaded by a bugling elk and a challenger. I’d not noticed, when I heard bugling from afar in Yellowstone, that there was at least sometimes a cough like sound at the end. It was a great way to go to sleep, listening. In the morning, we saw a bull elk and four cows just upstream.

At the Trout and Third Creek split, there’s a trail off to the right. Take the left and stay along Trout Creek. If you’re heading up to Indian Crossing on Trout, the last reasonable camping area before then is about 2 ½ miles down from Dunlap spring. The trail forks soon after Indian Crossing on the way to Oregon Butte – take the right fork around to the right of the treed hill.

The trail reaches the top just shy of Indian Corral.

Directions: The Indian Corral end of the trail is at Indian Corral, which can be reached via a variety of trails: Panjab, Rattlesnake, Oregon Butte and Mount Misery.

The Wenaha end of the trail is 6 miles up the Wenaha from the Troy Trailhead.
Information: Pomeroy Ranger District, UNF, (509) 843-1891.

Maps: USGS maps Panjab Creek, Oregon Butte, and Diamond Peak, Washington, and Eden, Oregon; Forest Service Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Map.

Connections: If you head right when you top out on the Mount Misery Trail, you’ll be heading to Diamond Peak. If you head left at Indian Corral, you can hike to Oregon Butte, down Panjab Creek, or down Rattlesnake. Closer to the Wenaha end, you also can connect with the trail up to Three Forks or Melton Creek. FYI – I recommend a Three Forks to Crooked to Wenaha as a relatively easy and enjoyable circuit.