Coyote Wall Hike Clarifications

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Coyote Wall Hike Clarifications

Post by zoogelsnof » May 30th, 2016, 5:31 pm

I tried to follow the coyote wall directions today and had a tough time figuring them out. I've pasted the whole article below, my suggested changes are in bold.

The great quintet of hikes on the Washington side of the Gorge includes Hamilton Mountain, Table Mountain, Dog Mountain, Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall. The latter is the most recent addition to the popularity index although Coyote Wall has been a mecca for mountain bikers going back over three decades now. Hikers discovered it in the 1990s and began to arrive in droves on the unofficial trails around and on the massive syncline of columnar basalt. They came for the expansive views, the grassy slopes and oak woodlands, and to enjoy, in season, the dazzling display of wildflowers - as well as endure the odd tick and rattlesnake. For better or worse, the "trailhead" on Courtney Road filled up by 10:00 a.m. on a balmy spring weekend morning. Mountain bikers zipped in and out and were given much freedom by private landowners; hikers and their dogs passed through more slowly and sometimes noisily, strayed from the trails and onto private property, often deposited litter and other things (think human waste) and the whole escalation in use and misuse led to the current Forest Service plan to regulate the area. Thus, although a brand new trailhead has been constructed above Locke Lake, access to the "Coyote Canyon" area and its trails has been closed and official trail construction has been going on between Burdoin Mountain and Catherine Creek. The loop described here takes you up along the western edge of the Labyrinth, over to the magnificent syncline wall, and then up along it into oak/Douglas-fir woods to do a short loop back and drop down the rim once more. Coming down Coyote Wall, taking in expansive vistas every step of the way, is the just reward for slogging all the way up. An extra perk is that dog owners can leave their pets off leash in the Coyote Wall area all year.

Descriptions of the Forest Service's plan for the area can be found under these links:

Burdoin Mountain, Coyote Wall, Catherine Creek Area Recreation Plan
Coyote Wall - Catherine Creek Recreation Plan (Washington Trails Association)

Actual Description of the Hike:

This hike begins at the new Coyote Wall Trailhead. The old Coyote Canyon Trail is right here but DO NOT venture up it as you will stray onto private land. Continue straight on the road with the trailhead, this becomes Highway 8, the main highway up the Washington side of the Gorge in an earlier era. To your right, you'll seeLocke Lake, and you'll pass several boulders that have fallen from the wall on to the roadway. It's pretty obvious why they relocated the highway away from the cliffs! The old road rounds the end of the wall and continues straight east. The wall here is a good place to find pungent desert-parsley and prairie stars early in the season. About 0.6 miles from the trailhead, you'll come to another trail junction. This first junction is marked by some wooden boxes and is a break in a fence.

Turn left on the dirt path and head up the hill. Once you're up on the first set of rocks, go right and head up to cross a road track and then a plank footbridge over a stream. You are now on the Little Maui biker's trail. Look for poison oak and big root among the rocks on this western edge of the Labyrinth scab land, gouged and exposed by the Missoula (Bretz) Floods. The trail loops up alongside the tumbling stream, which has a couple of small waterfalls. Listen for the chirping of frogs. Spreading maples shade the stream, but keep an eye (and ear) out for rattlesnakes here. Rise to a bench harboring a seasonal pool behind a line of oaks. Keep up the east bank of the stream under a low, spreading maple and loop up through a narrow defile. Cross the stream at a beautiful oak and , where the trail splits, keep right and walk on a track dampened by a seep and blooming with grass widows in early spring. With a fence on your right, keep straight to the Coyote Wall and get your first views from the top of the ramparts.

Turn back to a gap in the fence at Road 20, a closed old 4 wheel drive road, which leads east from here and eventually connects up to the Catherine Creek trail system. There's more information on this trail on the Catherine Creek to Coyote Wall Hike page. Above the fence, keep heading left until you reach the wall. Hike up the edge of the precipice, taking short detours to admire the view. Watch vultures riding thermals up from below. Head uphill. You'll cross under a set of powerlines and pass through a couple more fences on a very worn old road. Above these fences you will notice looping mountain bike tracks cutting across the road every 20-30 feet. Take a left onto the track, to get up to the edge of the cliffs. You'll pass a memorial for a biker that died in a tragic accident when he went over the edge of the cliff. It is a small plaque on a rock. Eventually you'll reach the top of the biker's downhill run, marked by a large ponderosa pine. This is the the Coyote Wall Upper Viewpoint. This viewpoint, marked "McMahon" on topo maps, is a good turn around point for those wanting a shorter day. A couple of bleached ponderosa skeletons and a few copses of poison oak rimmed by blooming buttercups also mark the spot.

If you have the energy for an extra little loop, continue past the ponderosa on a trail and come to a junction. Go left on the narrow Crybaby Trail, which runs through copses of stunted oak right at the edge of the cliffs. The Crybaby offers great views back down the Coyote Canyon and it's often a great place to watch large birds floating on the breeze. Pass the Crybaby-Wizard Trail Junction (The Wizard Trail descends into now-forbidden territory) and continue along the steep slope on the narrowest section of the Crybaby, built for mountain bikers with nerves of steel. The Crybaby Trail is less than a half mile long and it ends with a 30 foot scramble up to the Atwood Road-Crybaby Trail Junction.

Go right here and head down Atwood Road in shady forest to the Atwood Road-Coyote Wall Trail Junction. Go right and pass a battery of Forest Service signs before reaching a junction, and go left to return to your starting place for this little loop,the Coyote Wall Upper Viewpoint. Now head downhill. Descend along the rim the way you came to the unmarked Coyote Wall-Road 20 Trail Junction. Take a right here to the unmarked Coyote Wall Viewpoint and then keep heading down along the rim. The path down the rim is calledthe Little Moab Trail.

Keep descending the rim until the trail veers east above a recessed bench on the wall. Drop down among scattered ponderosas. Listen for the chimings of meadowlarks. Saxifrage, cryptantha and blue-eyed Mary bloom in the meadows. Skirt the rim of this bench and then head east to pick up a jeep track, coming to a four-way junction in the midst of a rocky outcrop. Make a right and descend to the old highway. Return to the Coyote Wall Trailhead by strolling west long the foot of the basalt cliffs.

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Re: Coyote Wall Hike Clarifications

Post by bobcat » June 5th, 2016, 10:09 am

Thanks, zoogelsnof. I've made the changes - clarity is always good!

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