Newport

94 reviews

We hiked the Big Sky Loop as described in Rich Landers' "Day Hiking Eastern Washington." Don't try to hike any trails here without the park map, as out on the trail, there are no signs with trail names, directions, or distances. Trail junctions simply have a number, which corresponds to a name and path on the park map. Overall, it was a great hike. The single track trails were very lush and thus very overgrown. Orion's Path (trailhead not marked at all, but about 50 yards down the paved road from the entrance parking lot, on the left, with a post with a dirty reflector on it) had seen a lot of heavy equipment work, presumably to clear blowdowns, and it sometimes was difficult to follow. The rest of Big Sky Loop was spectacular. Beware, though, that the part of the Big Sky Loop trail, to which the Penstemon Point half-circle loop attaches, is virtually impossible to find. It appears all the foot traffic just goes to Penstemon Point. Going on Big Sky Trail counterclockwise, you could see the Big Sky Trail by a post with a red and white marker on it, just off the heavily used trail, to your left. Coming clockwise, the junction is pretty invisible. It was marked with a rock cairn, which has been knocked down, and you may miss that if your attention is drawn to another red and white banner/marker on a tree just a few yards farther along. (Following that portion of the trail requires well-developed trail finding skills.) There are only a few of these seemingly new red and white tape/banner/markers wrapped around trees (they weren't there several years ago), and they simply indicate to you in which direction a numbered trail junction lies, nothing else; not the trail you're on, not the name of the trails at the numbered junction, not distances either way. Having the county trail map is a must, and having a reliable compass, and knowing how to use them together, helps a lot, especially as there are a number of unnumbered offshoot trails not on the map. Keep your eyes up. Some number posts are not right at the junctions; e.g., clockwise on Big Sky Loop, post numbered 12 is farther along that trail, just visible, past the junction with Powerline Trail. It appears Veronica's Prom trail, which would have been at numbered post 4, is no longer used. It shows no sign of usage, and a red and white marker on a tree with several junction directions indicated has a cross or "X" thru/over a depiction of marker 4, sort of like an international "NO" symbol. Again, overall, a beautiful, lush hike with easy/moderate elevation changes, and some great views from the northern sections of Big Sky Trail and Penstemon Point. There is water available at the camp/picnic grounds, and at the clockwise beginning of the Big Sky Trail.