Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park VI / 銀杏石化森林州立公園之六

We took the apprentice out on his first hike on Sunday. Then today, we took a short trip out to Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. The place makes a great novice hike. The calmness at this time of the year is especially enjoyable. To this day, of all six outings, we had only seen one other hiker.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park above Vantage Bridge
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park above Vantage Bridge

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Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park at a Glance

Access: Rocky Coulee Recreation Area
Round Trip: 4.5 miles
Elevation Range: 580′-1520′
Gear: none
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park Backcountry

Rocky Coulee is part of the Ice Age floods. So it overlooks the broad Columbia River. We usually stay near the rim after getting up the steep slope. Going too far west inland meant missing out on the bulk of the river view. By being closer to the water, we’d also get to see herds of bighorn sheep.

The term “petrified forest” is slightly misleading. So before I learned about the park, I had expected to see rows of petrified trees as we strolled. But the most one would get are views of sagebrush, the river, and basalt cliffs.

Columbia River view
Columbia River view

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Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center

But, the visitor center is where guests get to see and feel petrified wood. From there, one can also learn about the history of the petrified forest and see the mighty Columbia River. The wealth of tree species here is the most diverse petrified forest in North America.

Besides the visitor center, there’s also the interpretive trail to marvel at the mineralized gingko, walnut, and spruce trees. Though, I’ve always had this image of buses full of tourists. So, to this day, I still haven’t seen the place. But I will try and make it my goal to hike the path next time!

Upstream
Upstream

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Hiking to Sternberg Point

We walked above the basalt rocks on mostly flat terrain while enjoying the beautiful sight of Columbia River. Roaming added a tad more excitement to our trip. Then we’d get back on the trail before getting through the canyons. Our views stretched as far north as Sunland Park and as far south as Sentinel Mountain past Vantage Bridge.

Unless one hiked up to the ridgetop, views to the west were scarce. Even there, it wouldn’t be high enough to see into the L.T. Murray/Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area. Though, variation in the terrain is too minimal for me to make an effort to go any higher. So we had only made it up there to take the road on the way back.

Downstream
Downstream

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Sternberg Point Plus Views

As we did before. We hiked through Point 1438 and then went down to Sternberg Point. It was our stopping point to the south of “Hole in the Wall.”. Here we got a better view of Frenchman Coulee. I might have misspoken in one of my other posts. But we were able to see Vantage Bridge from here.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as windy on this trip. So we stayed for a long time this time since it was so calm. The only sounds we heard were from the hawks that occasionally flew overhead. Plus, the noises of the semi-truck revving engines on the other side of the river.

Downstream
Bighorn sheep

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Outro

As per usual. We hiked southwest up to the ridge at 1600′. Then we walked southbound on the roadway. Soon, we left the path down at Park Point by the road bend. At one point, the sun made a cameo. So I got a glimpse of our recent hike of Ryegrass Mountain.

Later, we scrambled southeast and intersected the trail to hike out.

Thanks for making a cameo
Thank you for making a cameo

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