Press Release

February 28, 2023

New bypass reconnects two communities on Palouse to Cascades Trail

Landowners open bypass to trail users between Ralston and Marengo

OLYMPIA – Feb. 28, 2023 – Next month an eastern Washington section of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail will become more contiguous, allowing trail users to avoid a 19-mile road detour between Ralston and Marengo.

The new Cow Creek Trestle Bypass will open seasonally from March 1 to Oct. 31, thanks to a mutual agreement between State Parks and private landowners, TDH Properties.

The route spans nearly five miles between mileposts 1930 and 1935 and connects the east and west sides of the missing Cow Creek Trestle.

The bypass road sits on private ranch land, and cattle regularly graze in the area. Travelers are asked to stay on the designated route, close gates behind them and steer clear of cattle and wildlife. Camping, hunting, fishing, firearms, fires, wood gathering and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the private land. The bypass may be used only to connect to the Palouse to Cascades Trail from Ralston or Marengo. Signage and fencing will guide hikers, cyclists and equestrians.

The Palouse to Cascades Trail sits within the corridor of the historic Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific Railroad corridor. The corridor stretches more than 285 miles across Washington, from Cedar Falls to the Idaho border. Washington State Parks currently manages approximately 250 miles of trail within this corridor.

State Parks worked with the property owners and stakeholders to establish the trail connection. Partners included the John Wayne Pioneer Wagons and Riders and the Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition.

One man in particular made it his life's work to create a multi-use trail across Washington. 

“This bypass, in large measure, is the result of a tireless advocate for this cross-state trail, Tom Short,” said Parks Eastern Region Superintendent Scott Griffith. “He demonstrated a remarkable ability to bridge relationships with local communities and trail users. His optimism, kindness and ingenuity played a significant role in this bypass route being realized.” 

Tom Short passed away in December 2022.

The Cow Creek Trestle was removed in the early 1980's as salvage crews dismantled the bankrupt railroad line. The trestle spanned approximately 1400 feet and sat 100 feet above Cow Creek.

For trail information please visit Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.

News media contacts:
Meryl Lassen, Communications Office

Audra Sims, Blue Mountain Area Manager

About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Park Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.