There is perhaps no more popular hiking destination in the Tri-City area than Badger Mountain. The 1,600-foot treeless mountain towers over the skyline of South Richland and can be seen from the other side of the Tri-Cities. A network of trails runs up the north face of the mountain, creating multiple routes to the summit. The trail system is maintained by a group of local volunteers called the Friends of Badger Mountain. More information about the group can be found on their Facebook page of the same name. The hike is relatively easy and extremely rewarding, offering sweeping views of the Tri-Cities and surrounding area. All these factors contribute to the popularity of the mountain, which has been experiencing an increase in annual users. We mentioned the iconic mountain in a previous article covering some of the best local hikes.
The Canyon Trail is the most traveled trail on the mountain, seeing more than 100,000 annual users on average. The hike takes approximately two hours to complete at a leisurely pace but be sure to leave yourself some extra time to enjoy the views from up top! Depending on which route you choose to ascend and descend, you’ll soak up different views of the Tri-Cities and stunning Columbia River Basin. You may notice a marker about two-thirds of the way up the mountain that designates the former water level of what was once the colossal Lake Lewis. If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, we’ve covered it in a previous article that you can read here.
Staying on Trail
At several points throughout the hike, you will notice worn-down “shortcuts” that bypass parts of the main trail. As tempting as it can sometimes be, do your best to avoid taking these shortcuts, as they can often be detrimental to the local foliage and wildlife. When in doubt, stick to the paths that are clearly bordered by stones or paved with gravel. The Friends of Badger Mountain do an amazing job at keeping the trail maintained, so it’s the least we can do to use the hiking path.
What to Take
While Badger Mountain is not a particularly difficult hike, it is always best to be prepared while trekking outdoors. Make sure to bring a water bottle with you and enough fluids to keep you comfortable and hydrated for up to three hours. You might want to consider bringing some snacks to give you an energy boost, or if you’re hiking with friends or family, pack a picnic to enjoy at the summit. Sunscreen is never a bad idea, especially as the weather gets warmer. A compass is not necessary for this hike, although it never hurts to have one up your sleeve (or more likely, in your backpack). Layers of clothing are great to pack because you never know when you might need to gain or shed a little extra warmth on a hike. With all that in mind, you’re ready to get out there and enjoy Badger Mountain to its fullest!