Oak Creek
Wildlife Area Location

Greg Mackey
16601 Highway 12
Naches, WA 98937
(509) 653-2390

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Oak Creek Wildlife Area
Cowiche Unit
The Cowiche unit covers 7,683 acres south of Tieton and west of Yakima. In 2010, the unit expanded with the acquisition of the Worrell Ranch on the south side of Cowiche Mountain, adding 2,340 acres of shrub steppe habitat. The South Fork Cowiche Creek, which hosts spawning steelhead now that downstream barriers have been removed, flows for more than three miles through the unit.

The Cowiche Unit is an excellent example of intact shrub steppe plant community attracting a variety of shrub steppe obligate birds. Bird watchers and nature lovers can see many bird species and beautiful spring wildflowers throughout the area. Elk and mule deer can be found year round, with hunting opportunities available in fall.

A segment of the William O. Douglas trail runs through the Cowiche Unit, offering great views of shrub steppe habitat and the Yakima Valley below. The five-mile Box Spring Canyon Trail departs from Access Site #1 and follows the elk fence along Sunset Way. At the first corner, hikers can use the gate in the elk fence to access an old road and pick up the trail that runs beside it. 

One elk winter feed site is located on the unit, but there is no public access to view the elk in the winter.

Cowiche Unit Road and Motorized Trail Map
Best printed at 11x17 or larger

Viewing Opportunities


  • Birds of Prey
  • Songbirds
  • Upland Birds
  • Mammals

  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Small Mammals
  • Other

  • Butterflies
  • Wildflowers
  • How to Get Here
    Access Site #1
    Driving Directions
    From Hwy 12 at Yakima, exit on 40th Ave. Go south on 40th for 5 lights to Summitview Ave. Go west (right) on Summitview approximately 8.5 miles. Left on Cowiche Mill Road for 3 miles to the elk fence and gravel road. Go approximately 300 yds. to the small parking area on left side.
    Parking/Restroom Information
    No facilities.
    Other Information
    No motor vehicle access. Walk-in and horseback access only.

    Seasonal Closure Information
    The unit is closed to public entry south of Cowiche Mill Road from the start of winter feeding until May 1 at 6 a.m. to protect elk from human disturbance. The boundary of the closure is clearly posted and marked on green dot maps available at the Oak Creek Headquarters and the Region 3 office in Yakima.

    Unique Features
    Excellent wildflower displays in spring. Pristine shrub-steppe habitat. Viewing of numerous sage-obligate wildlife species possible after April.
    Wildlife Area Habitat Conservation Plans
    Weekender Report
    Wildlife Viewing Guides
    Accessing Washington's Outdoors
    Find a Water Access Site
    GoHunt - Interactive Mapping
    Green Dot Maps
    • Bird watching
    • Camping
    • Dog walking
    • Hiking
    • Horseback riding
    • Hunting
    • Mountain biking
    • Wildlife viewing

    If you are Hunting or Fishing, remember to check all current regulations.

    Activities may include restrictions or require permits. Please see Public Conduct Rules for more information.