Another summer and another trip with my daughters for adventure and to complete some more sections of the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route. Being that we had previously explored part of section 5 and all of 6, we figured to hop on section 2 and see how much more of this trail we could explore.
We got on the route just a few miles outside Packwood (has a fuel station and brewery) where Hwy. 123 meets Hwy. 12. From here it is all pavement until you leave the highway and head north just east of Rimrock Lake. Over the next 9 miles you climb approximately 3,600′ to an elevation of 6,168 ft. This is Bethel Ridge and the views are Amazing! This was our view from camp and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
From here you can see Goose Egg Mountain, Strobach Mountain, Jump Off Lookout, and Rimrock Lake. If you are quiet and dare walking out to the very edge (not for those scared of heights), you might see Bighorn Sheep below on the cliffs. This area can be very busy during the summer with lots of campers out here and we were fortunate enough that we only saw one other person in this area and we were able to camp about a half a mile away and have this spot all to ourselves.
The next day we carried on heading north on section 2 for about 17 miles before we hit the pavement again. Along the way the views are incredible. To date this is one of my favorite areas to travel through. There are some tight spots and mud holes but almost the entire time you are in the open near cliff faces looking into the valley below. After a few miles north on the highway, take a right and start climbing out of the valley towards Cleman Mountain (10 miles). You drive along the open mountain sides while following the trail on the ridge.
After the radio/cell towers on Cleman Mountain you head north, down towards Ellensburg (12 miles). You cross through open rolling hills and grasslands. We saw some wildlife through here. An assortment of birds, a snake, and a coyote. Once in Ellensburg you can stock up food, water, gas, etc. This is also the home of Iron Horse Brewery.
• Section 2 – 122 miles
• Packwood to Ellensburg
• Notable sights and features: Rimrock Lake, Bethel Ridge, Mt. Rainer, Mt. Adams, Tieton River Valley, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Evans Canyon, Umtanum Ridge, Old Durr Road