Escure Ranch – Wild West in Eastern Washington By Robert Eversole, Ponderosa Chapter BCHW – As Published in The Trailhead News, Jan/Feb 2016 Issue
“Officially” it’s the BLM Rock Creek Management Area but this 20 square mile expanse south of Sprague in eastern Washington is much more commonly known as Escure Ranch. It’s a fabulous place to ride and camp with horse and mules. Especially early in the year before Washington’s high desert starts to heat up. Springtime at Escure is a time of balsamroot, buckwheat, phloxes and lupines blooming under basalt cliffs and capped with bluebird skies.
Located about 1 ½ hours from Spokane, getting to Escure is relatively straight forward, although you’ll find plenty of gravel roads, dust, and potholes in the final few miles. Once you reach the trailhead I think you’ll find that the trip was well worth the effort. With six well marked gravel parking pads, two sturdy wooden corrals, a stock water tank, and a vault commode, the horse camping area is both welcoming and very well equipped for a long weekend stay. Directly across Rock Creek from the horse camp is a cluster of buildings and corrals that vividly portray the story of the area’s history as an active sheep and cattle ranch from 1940 until the late 1990’s. The former ranch setting creates an Old West feel that will linger long after your visit.
The riding at Escure is what draws us each spring. It’s fabulous. With over 30 miles of trails riders can easily explore for a weekend or longer without much retracing of routes. Whether you follow the wide jeep trails or discover the more remote reaches of the ranch, once beyond the ranch buildings you’ll enjoy the spectacular scenery with towering basalt cliffs framing canyons and lakes, their sheer sides reflecting in the waters below. Spring riders will enjoy the vast expanses of wildflowers surrounding the mesas, buttes, and pothole lakes that serve as marvelous destination points.
One of my favorite places is an easy 3 mile ride due south from the trailhead to Towell Falls. Follow the wide jeep path south along Rock Creek past cliffs, across range land, and through a slot canyon to arrive at an honest to goodness waterfall in the desert. It’s a seeming contradiction that never fails to delight no matter how many times I visit and enjoy a long lunch above the falls watching the tumbling waters rushing below.
Before loading the trailer and heading to Escure there a few points to remember. Although there are no fees to camp, ride, and enjoy the area there are a few points to remember. This is a Bureau of Land Management property and weed free feed is required when you’re here. This is a desert so bring plenty of potable water for yourselves. There’s a spigot at the stock tank but it’s got a large “not for human consumption” sign on it. Don’t tempt fate by sampling the agua – Giardia is no fun. Another beasty that calls the ranch home is the tick. These crawlies seem to be at their peak during the spring riding season. I took our dogs to Escure once and afterwards spent hours combing creepies off of the pups. Once summer’s heat arrives you may also see a rattlesnake or three. Personally, I’m more concerned with the ticks than Mr. Crotalus but it’s always sensible to be wary of these critters.
Escure Ranch; a wonderful place to ride and visit in the spring where the sights and views are as spectacular as the history. I enjoy my early spring rides here and I’m sure that you will too.
As always for more information about Escure Ranch including printable maps, weather forecasts and driving directions visit the all new www.TrailMeister.com. Record and upload your rides at Escure, and beyond, and you’ll be entered to win a huge pile of prizes in the TrailMeister Trail Challenge.