Klickitat State Park Trail
Pump up your bike tires, lace up your hiking boots and set out on Washington's southernmost rail-trail.
The Klickitat Trail runs 31 miles through stunning Columbia River Gorge country between Lyle and the Goldendale plateau. As it leaves the Columbia to follow the Klickitat River, the gentle trail leads cyclists, hikers, birders and, in some places, equestrians through dramatic Swale Canyon.
The canyon, carpeted with desert parsley, has oak and pine forests, and in spring, the hillsides bloom with lupine and balsamroot. Several spots along bubbling Swale Creek make idyllic lunch stops. East of Swale Canyon, visitors see rustic farms, open fields and occasional grazing cows.
This trail will appeal to railroad buffs, as it runs along the historic rail bed of the Spokane, Portland, Seattle Railway (SP&S). Later owned by Burlington Northern, this part of the rail line was sold in 1993 to the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, which, in turn, gifted the trail to State Parks in 1994.
Whether you're on foot or two wheels, you'll find inspiration and a solid workout on this exquisite stretch of trail.
The Klickitat Trail is a 545-acre, 31-mile day-use park and can be accessed from several points. Visitors should be aware that cell reception and potable water are not available at trail access points except for the Lyle trailhead. Long-distance hiking and biking requires planning and preparation, including the 10 essentials, repair kits for bikes and their tires, first aid supplies, extra food, water and shoelaces, and a headlamp in case the trip is slowed by equipment failures or health issues. Please check with the park for closures and detours, as parts of this trail are still under development. When doing the entire trail, a car shuttle is recommended. Please watch for ticks and rattlesnakes.
Picnic & day-use facilities
Information kiosk, picnic tables and a vintage Burlington Northern Railroad caboose are convenient features adjacent to the trail in Klickitat. Shade and a small county park next to the Canyon Market make a nice starting or ending place for a trip on the lower 13 miles of the trail.
- 31 miles of mountain bike trails
- 31 miles of hiking trails
- 13 miles of horseback-riding trails (between Lyle and Klickitat. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service)
Winter activities & features
- The trail is not groomed for winter recreation, but when the right Columbia Gorge storm blows in, snowshoe and cross-country ski enthusiasts enjoy carving their own trails on the paths.
Other activities & features
- Most of the land adjacent to the Klickitat Trail is privately owned. Please respect private property by staying on the trail. Dogs must be kept on leash and under control.
The Klickitat Trail is accessible by the following five official trailheads:
Turn north on SR142 on the east side of the Klickitat River at the west end of town. The trailhead is on the left. From the trailhead, proceed north parallel to SR142. The surface is improved for 1.5 miles to the Fisher Hill Trestle. While this segment is open to horse use, most local equestrians recommend horse use from Pitt south to the Fisher Hill Trestle and back for about a 16 mile round trip.
Park across the street from the row of houses adjacent to this access. Going west, pass through or around the double gates to get to the trail. Going northeast, simply walk the gravel road base just south of the highway for 100 yards until the trail curves left under the cliff. This area is a popular drift boat takeout during salmon and steel head seasons as well as with local equestrian users of the trail.
The community park abuts the trail one block south and across SR142 from the gas station. The trailhead is the location of the former railroad station in town. Going south from here is the current option. The trail north is currently unusable to the bridge out in Suburbia just north of town.
This trailhead is the lower entrance to Swale Canyon. Approximately 3 miles north of Klickitat, along SR142, turn right and take the Horseshoe Bend Road, and cross the Klickitat River bridge. Follow the road a few hundred yards east until it intersects with Schilling Road. Turn right onto Schilling Road—the parking area is on the immediate right. A portable toilet is located in the parking area. Going west toward Klickitat is a pretty 3-mile hike along the river with no houses or roads. Visitors will then encounter the washed-out trestle and will need to return the same way they came. Bicyclists passing through from Swale Canyon should turn north at this parking lot, proceed a few yards to Horseshoe Bend Road, turn left and cross the bridge over the Klickitat River. Then turn left again onto paved SR142 and reconnect with the trail 3 miles later in the town of Klickitat. Going east from Wahkiacus, the route is scenic and very easy walking. A very pleasant in-and-out walk is a great option here. It is the lower entrance to Swale Canyon.
Get on the Centerville Highway from Lyle by turning north on Glenwood Avenue between the gas station and cafe ½ mile east of the Klickitat River Bridge. Travel approximately 15 miles northeast from Lyle. Look on the left for Harms Road. This gravel county road heads north and is signed. Go north for ½ mile, cross the Swale Creek Bridge and park on the shoulder of the county road. Going west from here leads to the beautiful Swale Canyon. Due to its remoteness and lack of communication services, it is not recommended to travel this section of trail alone. Cell phones do not work in this area. Going east from here is pleasant and only 2 miles before the end of the Trail at Uecker Road. The public toilet here is available from October 2 – June 30.
In August 1993, the Burlington Northern Railroad Company sold its rights to this portion of their rail corridor to the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to converting vacated rail lines to public use trails. The corridor was railbanked under the National Trails System Act. The Conservancy took title to the rail corridor in March 1994, and in April 1994, the organization gifted the trail to State Parks.