Best Hikes in Umatilla National Forest (OR)

Umatilla National Forest Overview

Umatilla National Forest, located in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, covers 1.4 million acres of diverse landscapes and plant communities. The Forest has some mountainous terrain, but most of the area consists of v-shaped valleys separated by narrow ridges or plateaus. The landscape includes heavily timbered slopes, grassland ridges and benches, and bold basalt outcroppings with elevations from 1,600 to 8,000 feet above sea level. Umatilla shares its border with Malheur National Forest to the south and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to the east. Most of the best hikes in Umatilla National Forest highlighted below are on the longer side for a day hike. However, there are several turnaround areas to shorten the length or shuttle opportunities if you plan ahead to make the trails one-way.

StateOregon; Washington
Nearest Metro AreaLa Grande, OR
Area Size1,407,087 acres
EstablishedJuly 1, 1908
Hiking Trails715 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Umatilla National Forest

(*** = best hikes in Umatilla National Forest)

North Fork Asotin Creek Trail #3125 – 20.0 miles out and back

This trail begins at North Fork of Asotin Creek and ends at Pinkham Butte. The trail follows along the North Fork of the Asotin Creek for 7 miles before it climbs in elevation to the Pinkham Butte Area.

North Fork Umatilla River Trail #3083 – 19.6 miles out and back
Forest Service Road 32 (Umatilla River)
Umatilla River, Photo by U.S. Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

From the North Fork Umatilla lower trailhead, the trail follows the North Fork of the Umatilla River. The lower trail gains 450’ in the first 4 miles. This is the easiest part of the trail and is popular with anglers, backpackers, day hikers and horseback riders. The upper and more difficult portion of the trail climbs 2000’ in 5.8 miles along a south-facing slope with sparse timber.

Oregon Butte Trail #3134*** – 6.0 miles out and back
Oregon Butte, Photo by Dsdugan

Within its three mile length, this trail climbs and descends across a ridge and through a saddle toward Oregon Butte. From the log water trough, the trail climbs for ½ mile, winding up at the Oregon Butte Lookout. 

Panjab Trail #3127*** – 11.2 miles out and back

The trail follows a gentle incline along the Panjab Creek for the first 3 miles. The next two miles climb up to the Indian Corral area where the trail evens out on the ridge top.

South Fork Walla Walla River Trail #3225 – 19.6 miles one-way

This trail is a great singletrack that provides a wide variety of hiking experiences. You’ll encounter everything from smooth trail to rocky sections and short bits of exposure from the trees. 

Wenaha River Trail #3106 – 31.3 miles one-way

The trail climbs from an elevation of 1600′ at Troy to 4700′ elevation at Timothy Springs. Temperatures are extremely high along the river during the hot weather. At the Wenaha Forks where Elk Flat Trail #3241 comes in, the main trail begins to climb steadily for 11 miles to Timothy Springs. The primary attraction of the Wenaha is the rugged scenic beauty of the canyon. All the trails leading into the Wenaha have significant elevation changes, but offer great panoramic views of the Wenaha drainage.

Featured Image: Grande Ronde River, Umatilla National Forest, Photo by U.S. Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

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2 Responses

  1. Best Hikes in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (OR) | Trailhead Traveler

    […] the forest’s diverse landscape and recreational activities for generations. Similar to nearby Umatilla National Forest, most worthwhile hikes in the forest are 10+ miles roundtrip. Official […]

  2. Best Hikes in Malheur National Forest (OR) - Trailhead Traveler

    […] the west and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest on the east and the Umatilla National Forest to the […]