The Okanogan


Naturalist Trip - Sinlahekin Wildlife Area

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.

  • Easy
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 5.0

June 18th: 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 this area is mind-boggling and will be fun to discuss, contemplate, and stand in awe.

June 19th: Early morning birding for those who want. Then, we will 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 and 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. Or we may do something different at the leader’s discretion. The goal will be to see nature and understand the geology of the area.

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

June 20th -

We will bird near the camp early in the morning, then pack up. The leader will pick up some sound recording equipment in the valley, giving an excellent opportunity to bird and flower peek. 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 prior to the trip.

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

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. No drinkable water, so bring enough. Hopefully, we will be the only folks camping there. This is remote, and the dawn chorus is outstanding. There is an outhouse.

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