The Tri-Cities region in Washington is located in the southeastern part of the state. The 60-mile radius includes the three cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. The region is dry desert country, where rattlesnakes abound during warm summer months. The Tri-Cities enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine every year, making the region a hiker’s paradise.
Wallula Gap begins east of Kennewick and southeast of Finley. Although this is not a marked trail, hikers are encouraged to climb to the top overlook. The river can be used as a landmark, along with a compass and GPS to guide you. Over 850 feet is gained in elevation, and from the top, you can see spectacular views of the Columbia River. Watch out for loose rocks and rattlesnakes during summer.
Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area
The federal Bureau of Land Management administers the Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area, a short drive from Pasco. One trail is available in the southern end of the wilderness area, but hikers are allowed to explore the sand dunes and six juniper groves on their own. Lost hikers cannot stray too far, because the entire area is enclosed by a barb wire fence.
Badger Mountain is in Richland, where two trails begin at Trailhead Park. The Canyon Trail is a moderate 2.2 mile round-trip jaunt and gains 800 feet in elevation. Only hikers are permitted to reach the summit and enjoy views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount Stuart. If you don't want to summit the peak, take the 3.2 Sagebrush Trail loop from the Canyon Trail and share the path with bikers and horse riders. Autumn and spring are the best times to hike, due to rattlesnake activity in warmer months.
Chamna Natural Preserve
Chamna Natural Preserve contains 11 miles of hiking trails and is located in Richland. The trail is surrounded by woods as well as plant and animal species native to the area. Sagebrush growth reaches over 8 feet tall. The hike remains an easy jaunt without any noticeable elevation gain. Since the Yakima River flows close to the trail, hikers should beware of seasons with high-level, fast-moving water.
Bateman Island is a 160-acre island park in the Columbia River and is a prime spot for wildlife and bird watching. The main trail, an old road, begins on the western half of the island and loops for 2.8 miles. Smaller side trails are accessed from the main road and lead to the river. The remains of a 2001 fire are clearly visible, but add to the panoramic views seen on the island.
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