Check it out
Distance: 7 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate Hiking time: 3-4 hours
Season: March through Nov.
Maps: USCS Steamboat Rock SE, Ecectric City
Hiking trip notes
Access: Get on State Highway 155 between Coulee City and Grand Coulee. Near milepost 19, turn east on gravel road. Drive uphill past gravel pit .7 mile to trailhead at gate across the road.
Attractions: Easy hiking on a road closed to motor vehicles followed by rugged single-track trail. Portions of route ideal for all types of hikers and even mountain bikers. Tall basalt cliffs tower above cattle-free canyon lush with sage, surprising variety of trees and brush that form green oasis in spring and brilliant colors in fall. Northrup Creek is only year-round stream flowing into Banks Lake. Northrup Lake occasionally is stocked with trout.
Canyon is reliable spot for spotting red-tailed hawks, golden eagles or other birds of prey, including bald eagles in winter. Also watch for rattlesnakes.
Comments: From trailhead, pass iron gate and walk on road by piles of cans dumped by crews that built Grand Coulee Dam in 1930s. Road leads up canyon bottom nearly 2 miles to seasonal park residence and decaying century-old cabin. To this point, route is easy and suitable for mountain bikes. At park residence, bear left past left side of old chicken house and head up single track trail, which becomes too rocky - and occasionally too steep - for bikes. Trail leads up, down through open timber and outcroppings to Northrup Lake.
Options: Continue past lake and up scree slope for view down into canyon from sage plateau. Also, from trailhead, one can bear right and under barbed-wire fence on old wagon road hacked out of steep canyon walls in 1880s. Road is rough with scree making hard-soled boots preferable. Road leads up about 1 miles to scenic viewpoints of canyon and Banks Lake before petering out into cow trails.
Canyon was homesteaded in 1874 by John Northrup, who planted area’s first orchard. Canyon was popular for hikers, horse riders and picnickers from Almira and Hartline at turn of century. Washington assumed land as addition to Steamboat Rock State Park in 1976. Rules at 3,522-acre park prohibit camping or campfires outside designated campgrounds. Pets must be kept on leash.
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest