Posted by: columbiahighlands | October 12, 2011

Scenic drive: Bangs Mountain scenic loop

The forested slopes of South Huckleberry Mountain as seen from Bangs Mountain. Photo: Aaron Theisen.

The 10.1-mile Bangs Mountain scenic loop offers roadside geologists and wildlife watchers a pleasing sidetrip off the Sherman Pass Scenic Byway.

Donaldson Draw's steep-sided canyons, carved by raging streams as ice-age glaciers melted, support a lush environment of birch, willows, and mosses. Photo: Aaron Theisen.

Beginning at Canyon Creek Campground, drive south on Bangs Mountain Road. Much of this area burned in the 1929 Dollar Mountain fire, creating a dense forest of Douglas-fir, western larch and lodgepole pine.

At 2.2 miles, enter Donaldson Draw, a half-mile long steep-sided canyon lined with lush vegetation–willow, aspen, birch, and aquatic grasses–and home to a beaver-dammed pond. This, like many similar canyons in the Kettle Range, has a turbulent history: as ice-age glaciers that covered the area melted, the rushing meltwater scoured out deep channels in the bedrock. Now such canyons are home to interesting rock formations and a myriad of plants and wildlife. Much of the area on either side of the canyon has never been logged, so the view before you is much the same as it’s been for thousands of years.

At 3.3 miles, the road splits. Take the upward-climbing road to the left. The road immediately ascends into an upland forest of Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine. The low vegetation–fescue, snowberry, currant–allows long views over deer- and turkey-rich habitat.

The open forest on Bangs Mountain's south side allows for birds-eye views of Lake Roosevelt. Photo: Aaron Theisen.

At 5 miles, the road splits again. Take either way: the route forms a small loop. From the open meadows at the apex of the loop can be seen Lake Roosevelt’s shores in the distance.

The site of a successful restoration thinning project by the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, Bangs Mountain is a model healthy forest, with big views and watchable wildlife to show for it.

Driving directions: About 4 miles west of Kettle Falls on Hwy 395, cross the bridge over the Columbia River.  Almost immediately (1/10 mile), turn left (west) on Hwy 20, toward the town of Republic. At 7.7 miles, turn left on Bangs Mountain Road (FS Road 136). Travel 0.1 mile to Canyon Creek Campground.



  1. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for looking! And stay tuned for some more fall-colors photos in the next few days.

  2. Very nice blog!

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