Crab Creek Trail System
Trailhead w/directions for 3 trails, note basalt shaped posts
In my reading of history books of the Inland part of Washington State, I kept coming across the same name, over and over again. Crab Creek, Crab Creek lava beds, and the flat top basalt buttes of Crab Creek. It was an area that one had to cross to get from southern tribes to the Spokane or Colville tribes. It was an area where one could hide out if people were looking for you, hence a badlands. It is a place where cattle drives must cross to get the beef to the Canadian mining areas to get top dollar. Once a herd from Yakima was coming through here and it was discovered that there was only one trail to the top of one of these flat top buttes of basalt. So they drove the cattle up there and posted one young boy to guard the entrance on his donkey. This way everyone could sleep except the one guard and not worry about the cattle being lost. In the morning it was discovered that the donkey had miss-stepped off the cliff and took its rider with him to the bottom. An Indian scout canoed the dead body of the boy back to Walla Walla to his parents. Another time after miners continued to trespass, a small band of Natives killed a white couple traveling in the desert. The band hid out successfully for quite a while in the lava beds until being captured by a Yakima Posse. This trail system has 3 different hikes in it that explore the three main ecologies of the land: creek, desert, and high plateau. Each hike is about one to two hours each. You could easily spend an entire day here.
From Spokane, drive towards Moses Lake on I90. About 10 miles before Moses Lake, take O road south to Hwy 17. O will dead end, so take a right there over to 17 and take a left on 17. Go only a short ways on 17 until you see a sign for Potholes State Park. Take a right there which puts you on 262. This will take you directly to the O'Sullivan dam. On the east side of the dam and right before driving across the dam take the road to the left which is gravel. This is where the interesting scenery and wildlife/plantlife begin. At the Pillar-Widgeon Lakes road junction, go right another 0.8 mile to the large Crab Creek trailhead parking area on the south side of the road. If you want go a little further to the left to the next trailhead. Hike across a meadow to a large interpretive sign. The sign helps explain the options as will other postings along the way.
Be absolutely sure to bring good strong bug juice and be sure to bring it along on the trail in case you get there at mosquito time, or you wake some up once you near the water's edge.
Water, binoculars, camera, bug juice, and picnic.