Turkey Creek


Forest Service Trail #3136

Why? Fine woodland hike along a creek

Season: April through November at the low elevations, May through October nearer the top.

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s 4 miles and about 2,000 feet in elevation change after you leave the Panjab Trail.

The Turkey Creek Trail in the Wenaha Tucannon Wilderness isn’t – a turkey, I mean. Instead it’s a delightful hike along two creeks and through lovely, largely untouched woods. That most of the route is lined with my favorite small tree, the Pacific yew, only made it better from my point of view.

The Turkey Creek Trail starts a mile up the Panjab Trail from the trailhead of the same name. There’s a signed junction where they split, and once you cross Panjab and Turkey Creeks after the split, it’s either all up or all down along Turkey, depending on whether you’re incoming or outgoing. By and large, that grade is reasonable; any steep sections are short indeed. There’re a couple of switchbacks in the last mile or so before Teepee. The rest of the hike really doesn’t need them.

The trees along Turkey Creek are varied – fir, Doug fir, spruce, and larch for the big ones with an almost constant Pacific yew understory. Shade was the rule, something I appreciated on the hot day I hiked. The fires of 2006 show, but only in isolated spots. Most of the damage was in the lower part of the Turkey Creek drainage. As I saw along the Tucannon River when I hiked it last year, the yew seemed particularly susceptible to fire – in some areas, it was the only tree damaged.

The flowers in mid-July were awesome. I counted at least 30 species. Tiarella, thimbleberry, mallow, miterwort, spring beauty, twin flower and sky pilot occurred in big bunches so really caught my attention. But the few red and yellow columbine and bright blue larkspur stood out from any background very well indeed.

The trail ends at the Teepee trailhead – or could start there if you hiked from the top down. While it’s not the most exciting destination in the world, it does offer a good view down into the East Fork and main Butte Creek drainages with their surrounding ridges. However, it’s not necessary to hike all the way to Teepee to enjoy this trail. It’s one of those that’s worth walking a mile or two or three, then turning around and returning to the trailhead. No matter how short your hike, you can enjoy the woods and stream.

Appropriately, I saw a turkey on the way back to Panjab toward the end of my hike.

Directions: The Turkey Creek Trail is a right off the Panjab Trail about a mile up from the Panjab Trailhead.

To reach the Teepee Trailhead, turn left off Highway 12 about 4 miles west of Pomeroy at milepost 399 onto Tatman Mt. Road. Turn right onto the Blind Grade 6.3 miles later and left when it ends at the Tucannon River. In about 11 miles turn right onto road 4620 and follow it up the hill to the right about 1 mile later. Turn left at the monument in the road 3 miles later and left onto Road 4608 11 miles later, just before Godman. Teepee trailhead is at this road’s end, about 6 ½ miles in (Stay right at the 3-way fork about 3-4 miles in).

Information: Pomeroy Ranger Station, UNF, (509) 893 1891

Map: USGS Panjab and Oregon Butte, Washiongton

Connections: After you reach Teepee, it’s a short 2.2 miles to Oregon Butte. But if you want to enter the wilderness there, I suggest driving to the Teepee Trailhead instead and starting there.