Candy Mountain Loop – perfect spring hike in Eastern Washington

The Candy Mountain loop is an absolutely ideal hike near the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington. It’s in the middle of Washington’s incredible wine country with lots of sunny days. At 3.5 miles round trip with about 500 feet of elevation gain on a perfectly graded trail, this hike is ideal for someone who wants big views without having to slog uphill fovever! There are interpretive signs to help you explore the fascinating geology of the region along the way.

Candy Mountain is the homeland of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla People.

Parking Pass: None

Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash

Cell phone coverage: Good

Restrooms: Port-a-potty at the trailhead

Accessibility and Mobility: This trail is very well graded, possibly the most perfect barrier free trail I have ever seen! The trail is flat for the first half mile and then climbs at a consistent grade to the top and back down. The trail is gravel and there are no rocks, roots or other barriers. It’s also fairly wide, wider than a typical dirt trail but narrower than a road. This trail is more consistently graded and therefore a bit easier than nearby Badger Mountain, with similar views and wildflowers.

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When is the best time to hike Candy Mountain?

Bright yellow wildflowers in a field of sagebrush with a hill in the background and a town in the valley below
Gorgeous balsamroot flowers cover Candy Mountain in April and May

Without question, the best time to hike Candy Mountain is in the spring, when the wildflowers are absolutely stunning and it’s consistently sunny but not too hot.

Candy Mountain is open and available for hiking all year. Winter is very cold and windy here, so make sure to bundle up if you’re going out in winter. Summer is extremely hot so if you want to head here in the summer, make sure to have lots of sun protection and watch out for rattlesnakes. There is no shade so sun protection and plenty of water are vital.

Fall is another good time for Candy Mountain, with warm but not hot sunny days.

Where do you park for the Candy Mountain Loop?

The parking area and trailhead for the Candy Mountain Preserve is located very close to I-182/US Highway 12 just off Dallas Road on the north side of the freeway.

Trail Description

A wooden sign saying "trail" with a red arrow pointing to a gravel trail through the sagebrush with Candy Mountain in the distance
The first part of the trail to Candy Mountain is flat and goes by a few houses. The summit of Candy Mountain is in the distance

Start your hike by taking a few minutes to read the interpretive signs at the trailhead that tell you about the creation of the trail and the preserve before heading out.

Starting up the beautifully built trail from the parking area, you’ll be going past a few houses and crossing the road a couple of times.

A gravel trail going through sage brush to the top of Candy Mountain which is visible in the distance.
The perfectly graded gravel trail through sagebrush and spring wildflowers to the top of Candy Mountain

In less than half a mile, you’ll come to a fork in the trail. I recommend going right first (you’ll come back the other way), which takes you past some boulders and interpretive signs showcasing the native plants along the trail.

After you meet up with the other part of the trail, you’ll begin climbing towards the summit of Candy Mountain. As you gently climb, you’ll pass more interpretive signs about the incredible geology of the area, from the basalt flows of the distant past to the Ice age floods that built the landscape of modern Eastern Washington.

Don’t miss the sign marking the edge of Lake Lewis, which covered a huge part of Eastern Washington and was about 1200 feet deep. Candy Mountain was an island during the last ice age when this lake existed! It’s hard to imagine when you look out at this current day arid landscape that it was once an enormous lake.

A stone marker on Candy Mountain that says "Lake Lewis maximum elevation 1250 feet" with hills and a valley in the distance that were covered by a lake during the last ice age
Don’t miss the marker indicating the edge of Lake Lewis, which covered the valley in the distance with water 1200 feet deep during the last ice age

In about 1.75 miles, you’ll come to the summit of Candy Mountain with views in all directions. Take a moment to enjoy a snack on the bench and take in the view of the entire area before you start your return trip.

You’ll head down the way you came, and at the trail junction this time go right which will take you on a slightly different but similar route back to the trail and your car as you enter the area with houses.

Wineries and Breweries to visit after hiking Candy Mountain

Hiking in Washington wine country means that there is no shortage of fantastic winery stops after your hike!

Two great options right near the trailhead are Goose Ridge Estate Winery and Kitzke Cellars. Kitzke is one of my favorite wineries in the entire area, but both wineries are excellent. Neither serve food but you can bring in your own.

You’re just at the edge of the many wineries of the famed Red Mountain AVA, so another option is to head to Benton City just west of the trail and check out some of the 12 wineries in epic Red Mountain. At Red Mountain Trails you can even do a horseback ride through a vineyard with smores and a wine tasting after!

If beer is more your thing, head over to Bombing Range Brewing Company for their delicious beer as well as amazing house made mac and cheese (multiple kinds!) and pizza.

There are also lots of amazing taco trucks and other food trucks in the Tri-Cities area.

Related: 19+ things to do in the Tri-Cities

Electric Vehicle Charging

High Speed charging is available at Kohl’s in Richland and a Shell station off I-82. On the drive to Candy Mountain from Seattle, there is charging in North Bend, Snoqualmie Pass, Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima and Prosser. Between Spokane and Candy Mountain, there is fast charging in Connell and Ritzville. On the drive from Portland, there is fast charging in Hood River and The Dalles.

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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite. I lived in Alaska for many years and I still spend lots of time there every year visiting friends and working as a tour director. I've been a guide for many years in both Alaska and Washington, am a field editor for the Milepost and host the Alaska Uncovered Podcast about Alaska Travel as well as the Washington State Hiking Podcast. I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you here!