Melton Creek Trail


Forest Service Trail #3124

Why: Fine views

Season: July through September

Ease: Easy to strenuous, depending on how far you hike. It’s 9.7 miles and 3,600 feet down from the trailhead at Kelly Camp to Crooked Creek.

Luckily, the fine views that would induce most people to hike Melton Creek come within the first few miles and before the trail has taken you to far down toward the Chaparral Basin. Once you’ve skirted Diamond Peak and the Diamond Spring area, there’s a stretch of open country from which you even can see the Seven Devils and Wallowas. At one nice pull out, you can see most of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness: where you’re headed, where you’ve been, where you might like to go on another hike. The close views of the hills, brown in the fall with dark green trees and basalt, might not be as dramatic color-wise as some other areas, but they surely are dramatic in slope and extent. These hills really are steep.

Even with all the downhill, the trail starts as an uphill out of Kelly Camp. But once past the second trail junction, the downhill begins, in the form of well-graded switchbacks all the way down to the Chaparral Basin. There were rock outcrops aplenty, and the occasional tree was usually ponderosa pine. And until the trail drops down into the trees near Chaparral, it’s all in the open – quite enjoyable as long as it’s not too hot, and definitely a good way to really appreciate the shape of this land.

Chaparral is a very small as basins go. In fact there’d hardly be space for a tent if you wanted to camp. Plus it’s a place with a very tight switchback turn – we missed it the first time through and made an unnecessary messy crossing and recrossing of Melton. The creek was ok, but the other side had lots and lots of deep mud.

From there it’s just another 1,000 feet down to Crooked Creek.

Trail Note: As of September, 2005, the trail is in decent but not perfect condition. It is rocky, narrow, and brushy. Luckily, it’s been used enough so it’s visible all the way. There are two trails off to the right in the first mile of trail.

Directions: Take a right just before you reach Asotin on the road that travels along Asotin Creek. Take the left fork onto the Cloverland Road 3 miles in. Turn right when the road ends at 29.8 miles after stopping for the great view of both the Wallowas and Seven Devils.

Continue straight towards the Clearwater Lookout at mile 32.6, and take Road 4030 signed to Mt. Misery and Diamond Peak Road on the left at 35.9 miles. Go straight at the fork 0.1 miles later. The signed trailhead will be on the left at 40.6 miles in.

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

Maps: USGS Diamond Peak, Washington; Forest Service Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Map

Connections: If you hike down to Crooked Creek, you can head either way. You can hike south along Crooked Creek, then up Three Forks for a relatively easy car shuttle through hike of about 14 miles. You also can hike down Crooked to the Wenaha River or up Crooked from Melton toward Indian Corral.