“Run along Asotin Creek, up to Pinkham Ridge, and back down.
— Larry Haws
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This loop starts with the full length of the North Fork Asotin Creek Trail. Look for mountain sheep on the cliffs opposite the creek. Then be ready for a challenging climb up North Pinkham Trail
, a mile on NF Rd. 163, then down through the deep forest ravine on South Pinkham Trail
. Visitors will be returning to the Asotin Creek trailhead.
No hiking permits are required, but the Washington Discovery Pass is required in the trailhead parking area.
Need to Know
In early spring Lick Creek can be running strong. If so, crossing can be dangerous, and you'll want to continue up stream and find a narrow section to cross.
At seven miles you'll pass the South Pinkham trail but probably not see it on the right, but you'll come back to this point on your return.
If visiting near Asotin Creek in July and August, rattlesnakes have been reported.
The trail is open to the public year-round. However, motorized vehicle traffic is restricted by a gate on the Asotin Creek road from Dec 1st to March 31st of each year to minimize disturbance to wildlife. The gate opens April 1st. Very little of this route is smooth trail except for the section on NF Rd. 163. You'll experience rock, some roots and snow or ice in the colder months.
The NF Rd.163 section can be cut out by turning right on to Pinkham Ridge Trail. But the evident trail will end in a large meadow and you will need to " cross country" to find a short single track leading to the top of the Bracken Ridge and the South Pinkham Trail
From the parking area, (Discovery Pass required) the trail starts behind the steel gate and immediately crosses Lick Creek. The first half mile is dual track along the side of a field then you enter a fine dual and singletrack that takes you along Asotin Creek for ten miles. Take the time to enjoy the creek views and look closely for the mountain sheep on the cliffs above. The trail climbs higher above the creek and narrows in spots. At about mile nine you'll find a pretty spring emerging from the wall right on the trail. Water will be running in the spring but it may not be in July and August.
On most maps North Fork Asotin Creek Trail #3125
continues uphill at ten miles but there is a sign that reads South Pinkham Trail
, so that's the name I have used here. This trail includes about a 1000 ft. climb in just over one mile. The top end can be dry and hot in the summer, but with great views of the north Blue Mountain area. At the top you'll intersect with the Pinkham Ridge Trail.
Save it for another time and cut straight down a short distance to NF Rd. 163.
Turn right and follow it through the trees and it will come out on Bracken Ridge above the North Pinkham Trail
. This is the one turn that is easy to miss. You'll be on the ridge with a forested ravine below on your right. There is a small trail sign high up on a tree to your right. On the north side of the ravine is a bare hill. The North Pinkham Trail
switchbacks down this hill bringing you back around and into the trees. You'll be on a good singletrack all the way down to where you'll eventually meet back up with the North Fork Asotin Creek Trail #3125
. Turn left and it is an easy down hill back to the trailhead.
Flora & Fauna
Spring on this loop brings a great show of wildflowers. Elk are often seen on the higher ridges. Deer and maybe even a black bear on the two Pinkham Trails. Bighorn Mountain Sheep are often seen sunning themselves above Asotin Creek, but you will have to stop and look closely. They really blend into the rocks. If you are on a hard core training trip, leave the camera at home. If not charge your batteries. There are a lot of photo-ops to slow you down in the spring..
History & Background
As you move along Asotin Creek the high ridge opposite the creek is named Bracken Ridge. Named after Bob Bracken the first permanent white settler of Asotin County. Bracken arrived from California in 1861 bound for the gold mines in Idaho. He lived various locations on or near the upper reaches of Asotin Creek from 1861 until his death in 1906. Bracken took a Nez Perce wife and was said to be quite popular with the Native Americans in the area. He always went armed with a .45 Colt and died by his own hand a sick, eccentric, and forgotten old man at the age of 65. Rumors of buried gold near his old homestead persist. No gold has ever been found.