In the shoulder seasons of late fall or early spring when mud or snow is making access to the Cascades or the Cascadian foothills an unpleasant proposition, these open hills near Quincy are often sunny and snow free. The area offers soaring vistas over agricultural lands to the east, the scoured remnants of the Ice Age Floods to the north, and the snow-covered Cascades to the west. While the hills of this shrub-steppe are bald, the yellow grasses of autumn and the greens of spring paint the area with subtle beauty.
Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, trail running, family fun.
Nearest Town: Quincy.
Skill Level: 2 (beginner to intermediate). Easy terrain but no signage.
Fitness Level: 2 (intermediate).
Distance: 8.5 miles (roundtrip) or 11.5 miles with longer return.
Elevation gain: 800 vertical feet.
Access (two possibilities). 1) Drive Highway 28 east to the general Crescent Bar area between Wenatchee and Quincy. If you’re headed east toward Quincy, turn left off Highway 28 at milepost 22.3 onto Baird Springs Road. Baird Springs Road turns to gravel after 1.7 miles. At 3.5 miles, go through a tunnel formed by the train. At 8.9 miles, turn right on Overen Road and climb away from the valley on a much steeper road. Follow Overen Road uphill 1.1 miles and park on the right side where a jeep road leaves from a small, primitive pullout that can handle 2 or 3 cars. You can also go another third of a mile to the highpoint of the road (the pass) and park there.
2) From the light in downtown Quincy, go due north on Central Ave N. After a mile and half the road jogs and becomes Q NW. Almost 4 miles from downtown Quincy, veer left on Overen Road and follow this 0.7 miles to the pass.
- From the pullout below the pass: Head uphill on a jeep road in an easterly direction 0.4 miles to the top of a 2,183-foot knoll. Continue heading east and, after 0.2 miles, intersect Overen Road again at a pass.
- From the pass: Start on the north side of Overen Road and follow a jeep road in a northeasterly direction. As you go, you’ll see Monument Hill out in the distance with a number of large antennas marking its top.
- Go past knoll 2,622 feet and down the other side. This is open rolling terrain and it feels surprising lonely up here. It’s pretty in the stark way of the desert. About 3.5 miles from the car (elevation 2,530 feet), reach an intersection.
- Go straight at the intersection and in roughly a quarter mile reach a very good, large gravel road . Turn left on this gravel road and follow it uphill for a mile where you’ll reach a junction where you can enter a Nature Conservancy Preserve on the right, or turn left to reach the top of Monument Hill. Turn left and go another 0.2 miles to views at the top.
- Retrace your route for the most direct return trip. Or to add 2 miles to the outing, by descending 0.2 miles from the top and entering the Nature Conservancy Preserve (note: only foot travel is allowed here). Walk jeep roads downhill on this preserve first in a southeasterly direction and then almost due south. After a mile, the road peters out and you’ll need to retrace your route. This walk gives good views of the fields and orchards surrounding Quincy, presents nice wildflower displays (lithosol soils) in the spring, and gives you a local destination to view Washington cacti.
Recommended Seasons: late fall, winter, early spring.
Uses Allowed: Hiking, trail running and mountain biking.
Prohibited: No motorized vehicles allowed on any of the Nature Conservancy’s property. No hunting without permission.
Land Owners: Combination of state (DNR) and Nature Conservancy.
Fees / Permits: None needed.
Maps: See map below for more information.
Issues: These lands owned by the Nature Conservancy are managed first and foremost to preserve the plant diversity of the shrub-steppe. Stay on roads and trails and treat the area respectfully.
Leave It Better Than You found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash others have left behind, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse fire rings found at campsites (they encourage more fires), throw logs and branches over spur trails and spurs between switchbacks (make it harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing).
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Things change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes, fail to give complete information, or may not know all the issues affecting a route. Forget about finger pointing: If things go wrong, you are completely responsible for yourself and your actions. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.