Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, WA
It had been a long time since we visited the Sinlahekin Valley. We were impressed with it the first time we camped and hiked in the area, so it had been on our list of places to go back to for a long time. This time we left work early enough to make it to the wildlife area before dark. With daylight we were able to find a campsite on the valley floor (opposed to last time, we stay up on the mountainside). We were able to get a prime campsite on Conners Lake. The campsite was located on a small outpocket of land that jetted into the lake. We had a gorgeous view of surrounding lake and the mountains stretching upward on two sides.
Another bonus to the campsite was access to the Sinlahekin trail, which went from Conners Lake down to Forde Lake and then past Blue Lake. The trail stretched roughly 10 miles down the valley floor. The easy trail was comprised of old service roads, side dirt roads (that came off the main road), and even an old aquifer. The only problem with the trail was the invasive weeds that grew in abundance and some times took over the seemingly seldom used trail.
The Sinlahekin trail followed the valley floor through open meadows, ponderosa pine, marshes, riparian, and open lakes - a great variety of habitats to find the many birds and wildlife that live in the valley. We saw many White-tailed Deers, often as they were bounding away with their white tails wagging in the air. Also numerous were the wildflowers. It may have been slightly past the peak of the blooms, but the beauty of the sagebrush mariposas made up for the lack of abundance. We also enjoyed snacking on the serviceberries that were ripe and sweet (although very seedy). The berries abound and were plentiful enough to stain your hands and mouth.
Birders tend to say that July is the worse time to go birding, since it would be the middle or end of breeding season. Those birders haven't been to Sinlahekin in July! I was amazed at the number of bird species and the bird activity during our July camping trip. Surprisingly some birds didn't get the memo on when to stop singing because the Gray Catbirds, Bullock's Orioles, Lazuli Buntings, Yellow-breasted Chats, Black-headed Grosebeaks, Common Yellowthroats, and Willow Flycatchers were still making a ruckus. We also heard a Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warblers, and a Warbling Vireo belting out their tunes. Even better was being able to see all the fledglings (such as Western Kingbirds and Tree Swallows) begging to be fed - that's something you wouldn't see in the spring! Also highly active were the hard working Osprey parent(s). The Osprey were constantly hunting Conners Lake for fish to take back (never did see the nest).
I throughly enjoyed our second stay in the valley. It was well worth the long drive from Seattle. Perhaps next time we'll stay longer to fully soak in the beauty and relax for a while.
Located: North of Omak, Highway-97
Discovery Pass required