The Dewdrop Trail climbs the old lava flow cliffs by going up gullies and ridges to the top of the escarpment and then the trail skirts the rim bearing west. For most of the route, there are fine views and interesting geological features. Usually we climb 2300 vertical feet (700 m) to the rim then we hike along the rim to one of many viewpoints and return the same way for an 11 km hike. This time, though, we decided to descend one of the steep gullies on the western end of the trail to create a loop route.
From a viewpoint along the trail, we could spot the Dewdrop Arch on a ridge halfway up the cliffs.
On our hikes along the escarpment, we often go to the top of Castle Butte as our lunch spot and turn-around point. The final part of that side trail requires a scramble up the northeast side of the rock bluff.
We continued past Castle Butte up to the highest point on the trail at 1300m (4265 feet). We picked a deep gully and bushwhacked our way down ridges and gullies . There was some deadfall and slow-going terrain on the 2.5 km descent. Although the route was interesting, it is difficult and not for everyone. As it turned out, we went back up a few days later and found a good trail down, to be featured in another article soon.
Open forest covers the gullies and the top of Red Plateau is forested. The lowest end of the route is sagebrush and grassland. A variety of wildflowers can be spotted along the route.
The final part of the loop emerged into the grasslands where we had parked a shuttle vehicle to avoid the 4km walk back along the gravel road. We had a good view of Castle Butte from the west on the last part of the hike.
This particular loop route is not the recommended one. For most hikers, we suggest going up the main trail to a viewpoint and return the same way for a steep, but rewarding hike. There is a better loop, with a good mountain bike trail (Dead Coyote) coming down from the top 1 km farther along the Escarpment, information to be provided in an article to be published soon.