Douglas Creek and Canyon

Douglas Creek originates on the upper shrub – steppe of the Columbia plateau East of the Columbia River and North of the town of Waterville, Wa.  around 3000′ where area streams and creeks drain into it from elevations of more than 4000′ as it winds it’s way South losing elevation before turning West inside Moses Coulee and eventually emptying into the Columbia River across from the Colokum Wildlife Area. The creek and canyon formed as top soil and basalt rock were eroded away over tens of thousands of years with some areas of the canyon reaching depths of 600 – 1200′ deep. The hikeable canyon on BLM land is around 12 miles long between Alstown and Moses Coulee and divided into a North and South section. The hiking route follows the old Mansfield Branch of the Great Northern Railway which ran from the Columbia River to Mansfield used predominantly for the transport of wheat. The line was discontinued in 1985 after continued water damage, escalating maintenance and repair cost, and lower cost truck transportation. While the hiking route follows the railroad route the creek has been redirected many times over the years.

So while the geography and history is an interesting part of Douglas Creek Canyon my partners and I visit it early in the season before the rattlesnakes become too active usually before May, the low elevation, warmer temperatures, and humidity make it a very early Spring destination and the canyon can be pretty scenic with towering walls and colored rock formations, cascading waterfalls, and wildflowers. There are quite a few beaver dams on the main creek and tributaries as well as deer and a variety of bird species. I hope you enjoy the photographic collage while it is not Canyonlands or Zion it is a diamond in the rough in a very rich state.

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