Just beyond the split of HWY 12/HWY 410 is a place that local hikers know as Waterworks Canyon.
It's hard to know that anything is even there. Just after the fork, on the right, you'll see a small gravel parking lot, and a gate is perched at the top (not to keep you out, but to keep the elk in!).Beyond the gate, walk just 50 feet and the road disappears from view. Stretches of arrow leaf balsam root, pre-bloom lupin, parsley, phlox, and bluebells slowly appear. Hundreds of sheep and elk dotted the newly green hillsides, and we listened to the rustle of the aspens and marveled at the prehistoric lichen-crusted rock formations. I felt humbled and soothed and inspired. I've been reading here and here about the benefits of communing with nature like reduction in stress (71% of people report less stres after a walk in the park!) & depression and increases in self confidence.
Since moving to the Valley in 2005, I've felt that you need to be 'in the know' to find the hiking and biking trails around Yakima. Indeed, this spot is unmarked and unpublicized. I know that we can develop ways to protect the beauty of trails like this while still sharing it with tourists and newcomers. Trails like this are what will bring and keep people in our Valley. Your mom (and mine) were right: Go outside! --JM