The hike on Whiskey Dick Mountain in central Washington follows old double tracks to the top of open ridges. There are no trees in this desert hills environment in the Whisky Dick Wildlife Area. The trailhead is off a short (signed) dirt road north at Mile Marker 18 off the Old Vantage Highway (Highway 14). A larger readerboard by the parking area includes a map and information. We hiked out on the track on a sunny spring morning.
On the southwest end of the Windy Ridges is the Wild Horse Wind Farm. There are 129 wind turbines in a 4400 ha area, each standing 67m tall. Each blade is 39m long. The turbines can generate electricity at speeds starting at 14 km/hour. From the top of the mountain, dozens of wind turbines were visible.
Wildflowers and desert hill wildlife were abundant on the drylands hike. We spotted several pygmy short-horned lizards, some snakes, rodents, various birds and lots of wildflowers, inhcluding a flowering hedgehog cactus.
On top of the ridge were long views along treeless ridges in every direction in this desert plateau between Ellensburg and the Columbia River Basin.
The track provided here is the recommended route, but we chose to make it into a loop (the guidebooks suggest an out-and-back route) by following a faint downhill track then some off-trail rambling down off the ridge to link back to our starting point.
The Whiskey Dick hike is a good spring hike when the wildflowers are out and the temperatures are not hot. It would also be a good mountain bike route, especially because of the distance to complete the traverse and ridge climb.
And, “whiskey dick?” How could we resist a hike with this name?