Backpack - Black Canyon (Umtanum Ridge)


Backpack - Black Canyon (Umtanum Ridge)

Alumni Backpack: The hills between Ellensburg and Yakima provide surprisingly beautiful panoramic views. Join me for this early season overnight where Umtanum Ridge is our destination and where we get creative to find camping just below the ridge. Please note: spots on this trip are reserved for B3 or Tacoma Intro to Backpacking graduates for the first 3 weeks after registration. Leader Permission required.

  • Moderate, Moderate/Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 10.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,900 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 4,000 ft
  • Pace: 1.5 - 2.5 mph

The parking lot at Black Canyon is very small. I encourage carpooling, and I offer my vehicle where I can fit three. I will meet at Tibbets P&R in Issaquah at 6 am sharp. Vehicles can park at the P&R for one night.  

It is about a 2 hour 15 min drive from Tibbets P&R. I expect us to get hiking no later 9 am. If you choose to meet us at the trailhead, I will wait 15 minutes before beginning the hike. Please be on time. There is little to no cell service once on Wenas Road. 

Trailhead Coordinates: 46.83455, -120.71292

This is considered a desert hike, which means no water source. This hike will require that we carry all of our water for the overnight. This is typically around 12 pounds of water. (I typically bring 6 liters of water) If you do not have experience with this, please contact me to discuss. It is also an exposed trail for the entire trip. We will look below the ridge for camping in an area where small bushes are for reasons of blocking some wind and place to party separate with a modicum of privacy. The hills may not look challenging, but don't let it deceive you. The hills can be a challenge, so don't expect this to be easy. Although a short distance to the ridge, when you have 12ish pounds of water in addition to all other gear, it takes mental fortitude to plow on and make it to the top! You will be rewarded with truly lovely views and a sense of accomplishment. 

While the distance and elevation may be in the moderate range of effort, I've  placed a leader rating as 'challenging' because of the need to carry 6+ liters of water. 

Leader Permission Required: I will begin reviewing permission requests after trip opens for registration.


  • To reach Umtanum Ridge, enjoy the views and get creative to find a place to camp below the ridge.
  • Foster community and belonging. 
  • Lead and learn in a collaborative spirit.
  • Foster compassion, understanding and curiosity with one another and in nature.
  • Have fun, be safe and enjoy one another's company.


  • Commitment to arrive on time at the trailhead, prepared and ready to be social and enjoy the weekend.
  • Commitment to communicate with me for any concerns and/or questions before and during the trip.
  • Commitment to having fun.
  • The group will stay together. This means seeing a head in front and in back of you at all times. 
  • Participants will be prepared to spend the night in a desert setting with no water sources and prepared to carry at least 6 liters of water.
  • Group will camp together. 


  • Through actions and words, I lead through an inclusive lens.
  • I foster community within the group.
  • I lead a slower to moderate pace, allowing for flexibility between the two.  If you are someone who likes to hike fast, this trip is likely not for you.

More to come in the 'hello hiker' email that will be sent out a week before the trip. 


Black Canyon (Umtanum Ridge)

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports