The little used Slick Ear Trail begins at the end of a long spur road that probes for miles into the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness enabling access to this beautiful corner of the state. Begin by hiking downhill through forest lightly scorched by the 2016 Grizzly Bear Complex fire.
The trail quickly makes its way out onto a ridge line, passes into Oregon, and at 1.2 miles emerges onto an excellent open vista with views to the Wenaha River below. This makes a great turn-around point for those looking for a short, scenic walk.
After the viewpoint, the trail switchbacks into the forest and immediately begins dropping in elevation. Take care as the route is loose and rocky in this section and your knees will need to carry you 2,540 vertical feet down to reach the river at 4.7 miles.
The remainder of the hike is entirely in forest that can be a nice respite on hot days. In its last two miles you'll cross back and forth over Slick Ear Creek, which may not be passable with dry feet during spring runoff. As you approach the river you'll encounter a junction with the Wenaha River Trail. Take a left to head downstream toward the Grizzly Bear Ridge junction, or a hang a right to head upstream toward Wenaha Forks. Relax and enjoy the cool water before returning uphill to the trailhead.
WTA Pro Tip: Slick Ear is best enjoyed as part of a larger backpacking loop with Grizzly Bear Ridge, Sawtooth Ridge, Dexter Ridge, or farther afield.