South Walla Walla River

South Walla Walla River

Elev. Gain: 
100 ft.
2,400 ft.
Milton-Freewater, OR
4.00 miles (round trip)
Nice mixed-use trail along river. Trail and views don't vary much.
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This easy trail along the South Fork of the Walla Walla River is all about the pioneering spirit. Walk along the river for a short time and you'll start to feel a part of the exploration, mining, and timber operations that went on in the area as early as two hundred years ago.

Right on the edge of the Umatilla National Forest in the Blue Mountains, this is a hot spot for Walla Walla area locals to escape the plateau and head into the mountains. A mixed-use trail, you'll be sharing the path with horses, motorcycles, and mountain bikes, but there's room for everyone along the river as long as you exercise a bit of caution around blind curves in the trail.

We have this listed as four miles roundtrip, but the trail actually goes for nineteen miles with plenty of side trails to keep you busy for an entire day and then some. Make it as long or short as you want.

Begin at the gate just east of the bathrooms and follow the river. At times the trail ventures away from the river and up into the basalt cliffs, cutting a dramatic path with views of the river below and hilltops above. The trail splits in sections to separate foot travelers from the rest of the crowd, but never fear, the trail reconnects within a couple hundred yards. At three miles, officially enter the Umatilla National Forest. We didn't venture beyond that, but we'll be back – there's a lot more to see.

Permits & Tips

No fees or permits required. Toilets available at trailhead. This is a mixed-use trail, so there's a good chance you'll see motorcycles and mountain bikes in the spring and summer, and horses in the winter during elk season. Pay close attention. 

>>Google Directions

How to get there

Take Hwy 11 to the south edge of Milton-Freewater.
Head east onto the Walla Walla River Road (signs towards Harris County Park).
Follow for 13 miles to Harris Park, and continue past about a half-mile on a dirt road to the trailhead maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. You'll see a couple restrooms.