If you’re looking for an easy-to-get-to, scenic hike with cool and inviting water, the Bumping Lake Trail is your best bet.
It’s pretty much flat, has trees and shade, and goes right along the shores of the lake with places to stop and relax. And it’s got an interesting historical note as well.
It takes 2.5 hours to get to the trailhead from the Tri-Cities. The hike starts at the end of the road, 1.5 miles west of the Bumping Lake Campground about 12 miles up the road from Goose Prairie, west of Naches on Highway 410.
The trail follows the north shore of Bumping Lake, officially 3,415 feet above sea level, and is rated “easy”, though there are a few places with rocks and tree roots.
You can hike as far along the lake shore as you like, then turn around and return when you want.
The trail keeps to the lake for 2.5 miles, then climbs to the west through the trees.
A steady walking pace will allow you to do two miles in an hour more or less.
The trail offers beautiful views of the lake and surrounding forest. There are some remarkable sections with some large, old growth fir trees and impressive views of Nelson Ridge to the south.
There’s also views of the higher mountains near Mt. Aix in the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area.
If you look as you walk through the forest, you’ll find woodland wildflowers, giant ant hills, shallow streams, trees and some incredibly hardy mushrooms.
Indeed, Douglas himself, in his classic 1913 book “Of Men and Mountains,” tells a story about hiking along the trail on the north shore of Bumping Lake on his way up to camp overnight at Fish Lake, at the head of the Bumping River.
He and his companions were startled by what appeared to be a serpent swimming across the water, but was really just the brisk wind stirring whitecaps on the water.
Indian legend, Douglas wrote, was that an evil spirit inhabited the lake — a monster that turned into floating logs and branches to deceive victims, and would gobble up unsuspecting fishermen and drag them into the dark deep waters.
Douglas later became a U.S. Supreme Court justice, and his opinions on environmental matters were among his most famous.
In his dissenting opinion in the landmark environmental law case, Sierra Club v. Morton, Douglas argued that “trees and other inanimate objects” should have standing to sue in court. He died in 1980.
The Cougar Lake Roadless area was renamed after Douglas in 1984, one of many renaming honors the justice received.
If you go:
Easy trail – 2.5 miles out and back, five miles total (5 hours). Hiking can be extended another two miles west of the lake and back.
Elevation gain/loss 190 feet for the first 2.5 miles. The trail climbs another 250 feet gradually west of the lake. The gain at 4.2 miles in is Difficulty — Easy to Moderate 1-2 out of 5
Parking for people and horse trailers available. Dogs on leash OK. There are rest room facilities are in the campground just east of the trailhead. Please respect the private property boundary markers near the cabins. Northwest Forest Pass required.
Getting there: From Tri-Cities, head west past Yakima and west on Highway 12. Just west of Naches head west on Highway 410 and go 28 miles and make a left on Bumping Lake Road.
Then drive 11 miles and make a sharp right turn at the large wooden marina sign on the paved road going across the Bumping Lake Dam.
Just after the dam follow the road right and then left. The pavement ends and continue on the gravel, past the marina and cabins to the parking lot and trailhead at 1.5 miles.
On the way back: Stop in to the Walkabout Saloon in Naches for great burgers and refreshments.
Paul Krupin is an avid local hiking enthusiast, retired environmental specialist, and a member of the Intermountain Alpine Club (IMAC).