In September 2020 the Evans Canyon fire swept up Black Canyon. The combination of high winds and updraft created an inferno that torched virtually all of the vegetation. Many find the devastation depressing, but if you can see the canyon as it is now, not compared to what it was, you can find beauty even in the devastation as well as in the regeneration of life.
From the Wenas Road, walk or drive the Black Canyon Road to a large berm at the mouth of the canyon. Cross the berm and continue up the road. The grade is fairly steep at first, climbing between towering sagebrush hillsides studded with basalt cliffs and outcrops. Much of the vegetation is coming back, but there are still black areas where the soil was completely burned. Eventually the trail levels out somewhat and goes beside a long grove of aspen. Most of the mature trees were killed in the fire, but their bases are surrounded by the suckers of new trees.
In 1.5 miles the road splits. The left-hand fork climbs steeply through open shrub-steppe to the crest of Umtanum Ridge in about a mile. The right-hand fork climbs moderately through blackened pine forest and shrub-steppe meadows, reaching the ridgetop in 2 miles. From the ridge crest the views stretch north to the Stuarts, west to Mount Rainier, and south across the Wenas Valley and Mount Cleman to Mount Adams. For even more panoramic views from the end of the right-hand fork, climb the ridgetop road 0.5 mile to Point 4224.
SEASONAL TIP: Carry all the water you need, and as the weather warms up be alert for ticks and rattlesnakes, especially if you venture off-trail.