Not everyone is aware of the hiking opportunities that are right in their backyard here in the Tri-Cities. The area has several mountain trails, nature preserves, and walking trails only a few minutes drive away. Of coarse you are not going to find high snow-capped mountain tops and wooded forests but the Tri-Cities boasts it own kind of beauty.
The Tri-Cities semi-arid climate results in a shrub-step ecosystem which is dominated by native sage brush and bunch grass. The landscape looks vast and desolate however it is actually thriving with wildlife from a wide range of bird species to large game animals.
To really get an understanding of the landscape and what it has to offer involves getting outside and exploring. The best way to do that is to hike one or all of the trails in the area. These five hiking trails are the best in the Tri-Cities that we highly recommend!
5 Best Hike’s In Tri-Cities
Rattlesnake Slope is a 5.5 mile loop trail located in the Rattlesnake Slope State Recreation Area near Richland. The trail starts adjacent to the Yakima River and sees moderate traffic from hikers, bikers, bird watchers, horses and the occasional hunter.
This hiking trail follows a small canyon that slowly climbs up over a rolling hill. Make sure you stop and turn around to see views of the Tri-Cities and the Columbia River meandering through it on your way up. The trail will eventually start to flatten out on top of the hill and you will come to a large area of native bunchgrass and sagebrush.
The trail briefly follows a fire road before continuing up the side of Rattlesnake Slope where you will gain a little more elevation. At this point you will have the best views on the trail of the Hanford Reach National Monument and the Columbia River. The hiking trail continues along the side of the slope before descending back down to the parking area.
The wildlife area is prime upland bird habitat so keen an eye out for pheasants and quail. Coyote’s can also be spotted in the area and if you are really lucky you might see deer and elk too.
Where: Hwy 224 – near Horn Rapids Park
Badger Skyline Trail
Badger Skyline Trail is a 6 mile loop that follows the ridge of Badger Mountain. The trail is considered moderate and is heavily trafficked. The trails highest point is 1,500 feet and offers great views of the Tri-Cities, Columbia River and surrounding area. There is mostly sagebrush and native dry land grass along the trail however, in the spring time Balsamroot and purple sagebrush can be seen blooming.
The first section has a few switch backs and then you will cross a service road at around the 1.3 mile mark. Continue straight at the junction along the Skyline Trail as it slowly starts to descend. Cross the service road again and follow the trail to a triple junction where you will see the Langdon and Sagebrush Trails. At this point you can either hike back the way you came or head down the Langdon Trail which will take you back to the car parking lot.
Where: 5305 East 210 PR NE, Richland, WA
Riverfront Trail Richland
The Riverfront Trail in Richland is a paved and easy trail that runs from Columbia Point to North Leslie Groves Natural area. The trail is 4 miles one way and follows the Columbia River through several parks.
The trail offers beautiful views of the only free flowing section of the Columbia River along with several shaded sections. There are a variety of view points and you can access the river at many spots along the way either from the river bank or by one of the docks. Seating is also available throughout the trail along with drinking fountains and restrooms.
In the summer months it is best to hit the trail early in the morning or towards the evening when it is much cooler.
Where: Howard Amon Park
Candy Mountain is a 3.5 mile out and back trail located near Richland that offers great views of the Tri-Cities from a high vantage point. This moderate hike see’s plenty of traffic from hikers and runners on the weekends.
Look out for a boulder that marks the height of an ancient lake named Lake Lewis. The lake was formed by the great Missoula Floods over 11,000 years ago.
Where: 71004 E 669 PR NE, Richland
Chamna Nature Preserve
Chamna Nature Preserve is a 276 acre park and is a hidden gem in the Tri-Cities. The park sits directly next to the Yakima River and the shrub-step habitat makes it an oasis for a variety of wildlife such as migratory birds, beaver, river otter, deer and more.
The preserve offers a variety of trails throughout the habitat and is great for those who are seeking a hike without elevation gain. We recommend the River Trail and Peninsula Loop for a total of 3.8 miles. Expect to see horses and the occasional mountain biker on the trails out here but other than that it doesn’t get too busy.
Where: Chamna Natural Preserve, Richland
So what are you waiting for? Now you know where all the best hiking trails are here in the Tri-Cities so get out there and explore them for yourself! Always remember to be kind and courteous of others on the trail and leave no trace. PACK IT OUT!