The Okanogan


Naturalist Trip - Sinlahekin Valley

This is the "pre" Sinlahekin trip, getting there and then doing some scouting. The Sinlahekin Valley in Okanogan County has outstanding birds, flowers, trees, and geology. Its unique geologic history, including the formation of Washington and the Pleistocene, has influenced its character. Summer birds will be back, and spring flowers will be in bloom. We will explore this valley and the surrounding areas. This will be a scouting and figure-out portion before the official Sinlahekin trip begins and the Okanogan Highlands trips occur. The leaders will decide later on the exact plan for the initial drive-over and meeting places. They want to scout new places in the Sinlahekin, secure camping sites, put out sound recorders, and refine the plan for the main Sinlahekin trip. People are welcome to join us.

  • Easy
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 4.0

16 May: Details will be forthcoming. The general plan is to leave Seattle early to head to the Sinlahekin. We will provide two options for meeting us. One option is you can drive over with us in a caravan, or we will set a location and time to meet either near Omak or in the Sinlahekin Valley. Last year, we drove through the North Cascades and made several stops.

Find a campsite at Forde Lake, check out the Sinlahekin Valley for what is around, and put out sound recorders.

17 May: We would like to scout some new areas for future trips. The options are still open and under investigation, but the leaders will have a plan. The leaders want to run up Cecil Creek Road to FS 39, then to Long Swamp, then down Toats Coulee Road, and back into the Sinlahekin. This gets into higher-altitude forests with possibilities of Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Townsend’s Solitaire, and Lincoln’s Sparrow.

18 May: Several options will be considered in the Sinlahekin and Horse Spring Coulee area. We will be in Tonasket late in the morning to grab a hot sandwich at the Coop and then at the meeting place in Omak for the group. You are welcome to sign up for the second part of the Sinlahekin.

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

Those camping need to bring water, food, and appropriate supplies. We will do some walking but not sure how much.

Birds of the Sagebrush in Horses Spring Coulee (sound recordings

The winter 2024 Issue of Mountaineer Magazine has an article on the Sinlahekin.  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.   There is no drinkable water available, so bring water.  Hopefully, we will be the only folks camping there. This is remote, and the dawn chorus is outstanding. Outhouse available.

Bring firewood if you want an evening campfire. We didn’t have one last year, but who knows what we might want.

The Ten Essentials

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