The Naches Heights scenic loop tour is a 29-mile journey with scenic viewpoints, orchards, places of historical interest, wine tasting, craft beer, brick over pizza, gift shops and fruit stands. You will ascend the Naches Heights plateau toward the City of Naches and return via the Old Naches Highway to Downtown Yakima.. This hour long tour could easily take most of your day if you take advantage of the all the side trips.
Starting from the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center, turn right out of the parking lot onto Fair Avenue, at the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Lincoln Avenue. You will drive under a railroad underpass with an art installation called the Bins of Light. The lights on this kinetic sculpture are designed to resemble colorful stacked fruit bins. Continue on this route to 40th Avenue. Turn right, after approx. 1.2 miles, turn left onto West Powerhouse Road and proceed west 2.4 miles.
Side Trip: turn left on Pecks Canyon Road
Washington Fruit Place at Barret Orchards stocks more than 100 specialty food items including Chukar Cherries, chocolate covered cherries, Pikes Place Beechers Cheese, ten varieties of their own special jams and fresh fruit in season! The store is closed in the winter, December 31st until mid March.
Up ahead, you will see part of the Tieton andesite formations. Turn left on Naches Heights Road (locally known as Garretson’s Grade).This route will take you to the top of the heights. It also passes one of the largest fruit growing areas in the Yakima Valley. Beautiful vistas are abound with great views of the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy to the south and the Naches Valley to the north. Including glimpses of distant mountain ridges and peaks.
Side Trip: turn left at wine tasting sign
Watch for the wine tasting sign that will take you to Wilridge Vineyard, Winery & Distillery. Take a left down the short gravel road that is nestled between orchards and stay on it until you reach the top of the hill. This scenic winery is in a 100 year old farm house and they have recently added a distillery that specializes in fruit brandies. On Sundays and Wednesdasy, they also feature live music and a local food truck.
Follow Naches Heights Road until you reach a stop sign; then turn right onto the Naches-Tieton Road. As you ride down the steep grade look to the North across the valley to the lower hills and you will see sedimentary rock formations that were formed when this area was under water. To the North West of Naches you’ll see Mt. Cleman, which rises to an elevation 5,000 feet. Continue down the road across the Naches River to the City of Naches and the junction with Hwy 12. Cross Hwy 12 and drive until you reach 2nd Street.
As you make your way to 2nd Street you’ll drive by the Naches Gazebo. Originally constructed as the office of a gas station, the small, white structure with a tall spire and neon trim has eight sides. At the intersection of Naches Avenue and Railroad Street you’ll pass by the Historic 1906 Naches Train Depot.
Turn left onto 2nd street which connects with the Old Naches Highway. Prior to 1935, this was part of the old route from Yakima to go over Chinook Pass. Note the close-up view of the sedimentary formations you saw from the top of the Naches grade, on your right you will see miles of fruit orchards, as well as great views of Naches Heights and across the valley.
Continue on the Old Naches Highway for about 9.5 miles to a stop sign that intersects with Highway 12. Take a left onto Hwy 12.
Side Trip: great places to stop while you travel through Naches
Bron yr Aur Brewing will be on right before you enter town. They serve fresh craft beer and delicious hand-tossed brick oven pizza.
La Kat Gallery is on the left as you drive through town. They are a photo and crafts gallery that showcases the skills of talented local craftsmen. Their galley also has pine and log furniture, wooden toys, birdhouses, knitted/crocheted items and more.
Thompson Farm Market will be on the right before you exit town. Open May 1 thru November 1, they sell tree-ripened fruit as well as local produce, cider, jams and gifts. Visit their old fashioned soda fountain for a tasty treat or to sample Yakima Valley Wines.
McIllrath Fruit Stand is located a little ways past the town of Naches at the intersection of Old Naches Highway and Hwy 12. Open from April to November they carry fresh Yakima Valley produce, local artisan products, antiques, flowers, fresh baked goods and delicious ice cream! Enjoy fresh treats in the shade of their park.
Continue down Hwy. 12. As you proceed east, take the 16th Avenue exit, turn right and stay on 16th avenue until you reach Yakima Avenue. Continue down Yakima Avenue and you be right in Downtown Yakima.