Grizzly Bear Ridge


Forest Service Trail #3103

Why? Nice open country and good scenery.

Season: July through September

Ease: Moderate if you stay on top. You can probably hike 4 to 5 miles before you lose more than 1,000 feet in elevation. It’s almost 10 miles and almost 2,000 feet down if you hike all the way to the Wenaha.

I’m not sure whether the reason I wanted to hike this trail was because of its name, because I’d seen the ridge from the south side of the Wenaha River, or because it was in a different part of the Wenaha-Tucannon than the other trails I’d hiked and looked like it offered new perspectives on the scenery.

Whichever is the case, it turned out to be a pleasant hike and one of the easier hikes in the area, at least for the first 4 or 5 miles, which is as far as I’ve hiked. There were no big ups or downs and probably no more than 500 or 600 feet of elevation change. (We stopped a mile short of where the trail finally switchbacks down into the Rock Creek Valley and continues to
the Wenaha River trail – a descent that would make for a whole lot more downhill, for sure, and a much harder hike.)

The trail starts as an old road, wide and comfortable for side by side walking and in good enough shape that you can often look ahead as you walk rather than worrying about what you're going to step on. The trail to East Butte Creek exits to the left a short way in.

On the north side of the ridgetop the trail alternates between patches of open woodland with low underbrush and open fields with sparse vegetation. There’s enough shade and shelter, even in the summer. But there’s less cover once you cross over to the south side of the ridge, and it can feel hot, especially on the return uphill trip. There’s an old corral about 3 miles in, near the sign marks the Washington-Oregon border.

This ridge is a good hike for the claustrophobic, something that’s also true of much of the high country in this wilderness. The trail ahead is often visible a long way in advance, and in most of the wooded areas you can see what’s around you. From the open areas, there are great views to Round Butte, the Wenaha Forks area, the south side of the Wenaha River, and even the Wallowas and Eagle Cap Wilderness in the distance.

Besides the views, what will you find on Grizzly Bear Ridge? Not a grizzly bear, that’s for sure. We didn’t see much other wildlife, either. We saw a bull elk on the way in and heard a lot of coyote song while we hiked. The highlight was the pileated woodpecker that landed at eye level about ten feet in front of where I sat to take a break. If you’ve never seen one, the bright red head and large size can be a shock.

Directions: Continue on Highway 12 through Pomeroy, then turn left onto Tatman Mt./Linville Gulch Road. After 6.4 miles turn right onto Blind Grade. When it ends, turn left onto Tucannon Rd. At 11.3 miles, turn right onto Road 4620 which is signed before and right after you turn. Turn right up the hill
after 1.1 miles, and at 3 miles turn left at the monument in the road. Stay right passing the campground at Godman (12.2 miles), then turn left at 5.0 miles, left again 4.9 miles later. The trailhead is 0.3 miles further.

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

Maps: USGS Godman Spring and Oregon Butte, Washington, and Elbow Creek, Oregon; Forest Service Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness map

Connections: If you hike all the way down, you end up on the Wenaha River Trail.