Observatory Road and WABDR-Ellensburg – Nov 2016

The 6th of November turned out to be perhaps the last opportunity to get a sunny day of riding trails in the backcountry. Hearing that the higher elevations at the passes have already been hit with snow flurries, our small convoy of friends instead decides to head towards the lower elevation foothills on the eastern slopes of the Cascade mountain range. A large factor was that Washington state has had the rainiest October ever on record which made us consider the potential for very muddy, potentially hazardous conditions on the steep trails in the heart of the Cascades. We wanted a easy trail with some good views, basically.

Southwest from Ellensburg, WA is the area known as Manastash Ridge. The trails in this area give wide, expansive views of distant volcanoes and craggy mountain peaks as there are very few trees and most of the hills are the same general elevation so it affords great opportunities to capture some landscape pics.

Mt. Rainier
Ridge Road panoramic

Taking Umptaneum road from Ellensburg, (see map below), then at right at Hanson road. Following Hanson road north, and continue as it takes a left towards the west. The observatory itself is in plain view in front as one travels along the rocky ridge road.

We made good time through the Manastash ridge road area and it was still relatively early in the day so we decided to tackle more trails. We made our way through to Wenas, WA and back onto the trails by way of Ridge road, which is Part 4 of the WABDR multi-day route across Washington. We stopped and had lunch on the ridge. It was good to be with friends, simply enjoying the day.


Ridge Road


AllTrails GPS trail. Almost fifty miles of trails.

3 thoughts on “Observatory Road and WABDR-Ellensburg – Nov 2016

  1. I’ve been contemplating a overland trip during the winter. I just need some people to do it with. I feel like overland travel during the winter is ill advised without support.

    Glad you got one last ride in. I’ve transitioned to hiking again for the cold months. Time to hunker down and start saving for next years mods, trips and engagements. If you haven’t already I’d love to see you do a 2017 plans post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Overlanding here in Washington state during the winter has several challenges. First off, much of the backcountry roads are closed off by various government agencies in an effort to keep the trails from being rutted and torn up. Other areas are closed to give the wildlife some respite from people, like the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area.
      Another factor in winter overlanding is the inherent dangers of traveling over high elevation, uneven trails covered in snow and ice: sliding off the trail. Here is a prime example: https://youtu.be/uACVL1aKK6k

      That’s a good idea, Tobias, on a post calling out plans for 2017. I think I’ll do that!

      Liked by 1 person

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