The hike up to the summit of Kamiak butte will seem very out of place for the Palouse landscape. It is heavily forested with Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, and Western Larch trees. The ideal ecosystem for the thriving forest is created because the ridge provides shade and lower temperatures which allow the rainwater be absorbed rather than lost.
When approaching the butte it will become much more obvious as to the presence of forest on the north facing slope but hardly any on the south facing slope. This forested landscape supports wildlife and cooler temperatures. The trail to the top is a loop which is 3.5 miles in total but the steeper segment is only about 1 mile.
The summit of Kamiak Butte, at 3641 feet (1110 m) is actually 29 feet (9 m) taller than its more famous cousin Steptoe butte. The view from the top will allow you a birds eye view of the Palouse Prairie and the towns of Pullman and Moscow Idaho. The hike is 3.5 miles round trip and takes from between an hour and an hour and a half.
Kamiak Butte, like its cousin Steptoe Butte, is a Quartzite formation. It is made up of much older rock that has been surrounded by younger layers of basalt flows and then by glacial Loess.
The quartzite rock was formed as sand in the bottom of an ancient sea. The formation was then pushed up and left as an island in the plains. The butte is about 1000 feet (304 m) higher than the surrounding fields and has a total elevation above sea level of 3641 feet (1110 m).