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Explore Fall at Snow Mountain Ranch

Explore Fall at Snow Mountain Ranch

Fall brings us a unique opportunity to enjoy the changing seasons here in the Yakima Valley.  After a short drive up to Snow Mountain Ranch in the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy, you can discover the natural beauty of the grass and sage brush covered golden hills, called the shrub steppe habitat, which surrounds the lush Yakima Valley.

If you’d like to explore a little deeper, The Cowiche Canyon Conservancy is offering a free guided walk on Saturday, October 24 at 10 a.m.  Previously a 1,800 acre cattle ranch, Snow Mountain Ranch now features 9.2 miles of trails divided into 13 designated trails. There are shorter, easy walks that are family friendly, as well as a longer 6.5 mile hike to the top of Cowiche Mountain, an elevation of 3,376 feet, which offers spectacular views of Mt Adams and Mt Rainier.  On your fall hike you may see signs of elk, deer, coyote, great horned owls, a variety of ducks, hawks, and northern harriers.  The Audubon Society has produced a birding trail driving loop for south central Washington, listing the birds seen at Snow Mountain Ranch. The map is available online for purchase, or free at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center.



In addition to managing the 5,000 acres of shrub steppe environment, The Cowiche Canyon Conservancy offers educational programs about the abundant life and plants that make up the Cowiche Canyon.  

As one of their recent projects, Cowiche Canyon Conservancy designed a conservation and science program for kids of all ages, Project Butterfly. This program highlights the astonishing diversity of butterflies found on Snow Mountain Ranch.  They also created a “Children’s Butterfly Garden,” a special reserve at Snow Mountain Ranch set aside for education, restoration and study, adjacent to the Swallowtail Trail.

There are 13 designated hikes on Snow Mountain Ranch (here’s a map)



  • 10 a.m. - Meet in the Snow Mountain Ranch parking lot at the check-in station.
  • Volunteers will be available to help with trail selection.
  • Walks range from the 1/2 mile flat Garry Oak Trail Tour, to the 6.5 mile hike to the top of Cowiche Mountain.


  • Drive West on Summitview Avenue
  • Turn left onto Cowiche Mill Rd 2.5 mi
  • Turn left into the Snow Mountain Ranch parking area, across from Cowiche Creek Nursery



Thank you for the photos, David Hagen!