Klickitat Rail Trail
Hike of the Week:
February 18, 2008
Location: SW Washington, north of The Dalles
Distance: 31 miles - various entry points
Elevation: gentle ups & downs
Maps: Online Klickitat Trail Conservancy maps
The Klickitat Rail Trail is a recent addition to Washington's rails-to-trails network, and is a fantastic destination for people seeking a great hike on the sunny side of the Cascades and Columbia River.
Thirty-one miles of railroad bed have now been converted for public use. Washington State Parks acquired the abandoned right-of-way in 1994, but it wasn't until 2003 that a local group - the Klickitat Trail Conservancy - started organizing hikes. Now the rail trail is managed jointly by State Parks, the Forest Service and the Conservancy for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
The first 17 miles follows the nationally designated Wild & Scenic Klickitat River. This is a great area to see spring wildflowers, bald eagles and blue herons as you make your way up the Goldendale Plateau.
The trail then peels away and into Swale Creek Canyon for the final 14 miles. Swale Canyon is remote and rugged - high desert country with oak and Ponderosa pine. This section is ideal for finding solitude.
Much of the property to either side of the trail is privately owned, so please stay on the trail. Dogs must be leashed and camping is not allowed. Be aware of ticks, rattlesnakes, poison oak and goathead thorns (if you're biking). Also note that Swale Canyon is closed seasonally from July to September due to fire danger.
For More Information:
Guidebook: Day Hike! Columbia Gorge, by Seabury Blair Jr. (Sasquatch Books) describes a section of the trail. Best source for information is the Klickitat Trail Conservancy, a non-profit group dedicated preserving and maintaining the Klickitat Rail Trail. WTA's feature from the Nov/Dec 2007 Washington Trails magazine provides a great overview for the trail.
Also, check out the Trip Reports section of our web page for updates.
There are six entry points for the trail. Directions to each trailhead are on the Klickitat Trail Conservancy website.