The Okanogan


Naturalist Trip - Sinlahekin Valley

Birds, flowers, trees, and geology are outstanding in the Sinlahekin Valley. This area is in Okanogan County and has a unique geologic history. The formation of Washington and the Pleistocene have both influenced its character. The summer birds will be back, and spring flowers will be in bloom. We will explore this valley and the surrounding areas. This is the first of two back-to-back trips in Okanogan County. You are welcome to come to one or both of them.

  • Easy
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 5.0

June 12th: Noon -  Meet at the Tribal Trails Truck stop on US 97 (noon), just south of Omak. Fill up with gas, grab a snack, drink, and eat lunch. Once we are together, we will head north, stopping to look at the geology of the Okanogan Valley and turning east onto S. Pine Creek Road. We will bird, botanize, and contemplate geology at various places on our way to the Sinlahekin Valley.

The leader plans to camp at Forde Lake. The closest town will be Tonasket, about 30 minutes away. The WDFW campsite is primitive, with a drop toilet and NO water. Bring your water for two nights.

After securing campsites, we will bird Forde and Connor Lakes, then head toward Loomis and possibly check out Horse Spring Coulee, returning to camp for dinner. Horse Spring Coulee has some interesting geology. The geology of entire area is mind-boggling and will be fun to discuss, contemplate, and stand in awe.

June 13th: Early morning birding for those who want. Then meet at about 8 AM at the campsite to form car shuttles. We will drop some cars at the WDFW office area and then drive farther north to hike up the valley, looking for birds, flowers and studying geology. This hike is about 3 miles.

After picking up the cars, we will head to Cecil Creek Moraine and then down the valley to Nighthawk, checking on geology, flowers, and birds, and return to the campsite in the late afternoon. We will find a nice place for a picnic lunch.

We might look for owls and poorwills on the first or second night.

June 14th -

Early morning birding near the camp, then we will pack up. The leader will pick up some sound recording equipment in the valley, giving an excellent opportunity to bird and flower peak. Finally, the leader will head to Tonasket around 11 AM to meet the next group. This tour will officially end mid to late morning.

Our goal will be birds, flowers, butterflies, trees, and geology. The leader will send some information on the geology ahead of the trip.

Those camping need to bring water, food, and appropriate supplies. We will hike three miles along trails. We will also walk along the roads and back into the forest in several places.  See page 5



The Okanogan

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Bring binoculars, the ten essentials, and stuff for meals and drinks. We are unlikely to pass any stores once we leave Omak and before leaving for home or heading into Tonasket.

The Forde Lake Campgrounds do not have picnic tables or benches; bring what you want to sit on and maybe a portable table. Hopefully, we will be the only folks camping there. This is remote, and the dawn chorus is outstanding.

Bring firewood if you want an evening campfire.

The Ten Essentials

  • Navigation
  • Headlamp
  • Sun protection
  • First aid
  • Knife
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Extra food
  • Extra water
  • Extra clothes
Trip Reports