This ADA-accessible trail built on a dike on the edge of this small town is a lovely jaunt, clocking in at just over three miles roundtrip, along a section of the Cowlitz River. A mountain bike course, playground, and several picnic areas dot the trailside, and with various access points to the town of Castle Rock, it’s easy to duck off for a quick bite in town.
Begin just south of town, at Lions Pride Park. The parking here can bit a bit unusual since it’s just an empty roadside lot with no delineated spots, but there is plenty of room and it’s infrequently crowded. Just be sure to leave room for other cars.
From the parking lot, walk north along the paved trail. For the first quarter mile, the road parallels the Business Loop of I-5 through Castle Rock. While it’s not heavily traveled, traffic so near can be a bit disconcerting. Don’t worry – you’ll move away from it soon enough.
Skirt the eastern edge of a large wooded hillside. Before the greenery grew up, this was recognizable as Castle Rock, the location after which the town nearby was named. Settlers built their homesteads in its shade, before the dike you are walking along was constructed to prevent flooding in the low lying farmland nearby. Now trees almost completely obscure the rock, but it remains a nice balance to the road nearby.
Notice a wide graveled path making a large switchback up Castle Rock. This detour, while not ADA-accessible, does provide the only uphill available on this walk. If you take it, you’ll gain about 150 feet of elevation as you hike to the summit of the rock, where a covered picnic area awaits. Views are limited, thanks to the large trees that have grown up and around it, but the river glints through the leaves below, and it’s a nice spot to sit and enjoy your surroundings before continuing on. You can return to the trail the way you came up, or you can follow the other end of the loop to where it reconnects with the paved trail near milepost .3.
As the trail turns away from the road, it begins to parallel the Cowlitz River. As you walk, look for interpretive signs telling of the history of the area, including past floods, the town's fishing and logging history, and the first settlers to the area.
Just shy of a mile you’ll see a skate park on the left-hand side of the trail, and shortly after that are a mountain bike course and BMX bike course. Soon the trail dips below the A Street bridge over the Cowlitz and a bench near the river provides a nice spot to sit a while.
Past the bridge are more picnic areas and access to the town of Castle Rock via a switchbacked ramp that links up to Shintaffer Avenue. Continue along the trail – there’s only about half a mile of it left! A boat launch is visible across the way, and fishermen are often active around here.
As you walk past town, a small park on the right hand side that houses some cheerful flowers marks the end of the trail. It slopes downhill slightly to a large turn where a picnic table and another bench sit, perfect for watching the river slip by.
Castle Rock Riverfront Trail
- 4.3 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 317 feet
- Highest Point
- 100 feet
Hiking Castle Rock Riverfront Trail
Castle Rock Riverfront Trail
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.2649, -122.9009 Open in Google Maps