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Far Hayward Hill, Cle Elum Area — April 2001

Shortly after I moved here 17 years ago, a birding field trip leader alerted me to the spectacular spring wildflowers on Hayward Road, and I have revisited this area frequently in the intervening years. I'm never disappointed! The dirt road up Hayward Hill is rarely traveled and, except for in very bad weather, can be driven by any type of vehicle. You can meander on either side of the road from your car, or you can walk the road.

A trip near the beginning of the blooming season, which is primarily in early April to early June, will produce the early desert parsleys: fern-leaf with its tall purple blooms, salt and pepper, and Canby's lomatium with whitish flowers. Look for other beautiful spring plants: Hesperochiron with its strawberry-like flowers, yellow goldstars, daggerpod with spreading pink flowers, grass widows, white western spring beauty, white prairie stars, purple sagebrush violets, pink desert shooting stars, and three species of phlox. Then, a bit later, there are blue-purple lupines, Columbia puccoon, and ballhead waterleaf. The Howell's brodiaea is beautiful, along with the later desert parsleys. Finally, with the blooming of balsam roots (both arrowleaf and Hooker's), the landscape is literally covered with color. The season finishes with the buckwheats (six species) and some of the composites: fleabanes and daisies. Shrubs include rigid sagebrush and bitterbrush and, along the road, chokecherry, bitter cherry, Saskatoon, Pacific willow, and black hawthorn. What a show!

Don Knoke of Thorp botanizes regularly along this road and has compiled a detailed plant list for this area. If you are interested, you can contact me at 206-324-3086 for a copy, or e-mail him at drknoke@hotmail.com and he will send it to you.

To reach Hayward Road, take I-90 east to Elk Heights (Exit 93). Immediately cross over the freeway and turn right on Thorp Prairie Road. Stay on this road (do not cross back over at signs to Taneum) until you reach a "T" intersection. Go left on Thorp Highway, crossing the Yakima River to Highway 10. Hayward Road begins directly across Highway 10 at this intersection and heads north. After driving the road you can retrace your steps or continue over the hill, bearing left at Bettas Road and then connecting to Route 97. There are no facilities, so be sure to stop at the rest area just before the Elk Heights exit.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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