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Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC)

http://www.klickitat-trail.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ktc_logo3.jpgWelcome to the Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of  the 31-mile Klickitat Trail, a rail trail in Washington state, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge.  

Swale Canyon section of the Klickitat Trail is CLOSED for the Summer season.  The section affected is from the Wahkiakus trailhead to Harms Road trailhead.  It is closed due to the potential hazard of either a person getting trapped in Swale Canyon during a fire, or of a person causing a fire there. This annual temporary closure is based upon Washington State Dept of Natural Resources fire hazard ratings for Klickitat County.  Currently, the rating is “High”.

As always, Swale Canyon will be opened again in the Fall when the hazard returns to “Moderate”, which usually happens mid-October.

The other 18 miles of the Trail always stay open all year around.  This includes the 2.5 mile section West of Wahkiakus, where it is very nice along the Klickitat River.  Also open is the 2.5 mile section East of Harms Road, which goes through rolling farm land. The Klickitat Trail, a non-motorized multiple use trail, follows the first 31 miles of an old railroad corridor that once linked the towns of Lyle and Goldendale.

The gently graded trail starts at a trailhead with lovely river views in Lyle, Washington, at the confluence of the Klickitat and Columbia Rivers, follows the nationally designated Wild and Scenic Klickitat River 13 miles through oaks and pines to the old mill town of Klickitat, and then after a few more miles at the Wahkiacus trailhead, turns up Swale Creek and into the remote and beautiful Swale Canyon, ending in the high, open ranch country of the Goldendale Plateau.

Currently the trail is unpaved, with a packed fine gravel surface for the first 2 miles from Lyle to the Fisher Hill Trestle and also through the town of Klickitat. The rest is primitive, with dirt and larger gravel, suitable for hiking and mountain biking. The first 13 miles — between Lyle and Klickitat — can also be used by equestrians, but the rest of the trail, with many trestles, is not yet horse-ready.


Photo: David Melody

This recognition award by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission would not have been possible without the generous and loyal support of KTC’s members. It is member support that keeps us going, enables us to work on the Klickitat Trail, and encourages us to work with Washington State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service to advocate for needed improvements. KTC thanks you for your ongoing support!


Photo: Darryl Lloyd

The trail’s spectacular scenery includes carved gorges, interesting geologic formations, abundant wildflowers, rolling hills, oak and Ponderosa Pine woodlands. There are great birding opportunities, including winter habitat for bald eagles near the Lyle trailhead.


View of Pitt from Lyle Appleton Rd 2

Photo: Pam Essley

In season, the entire trail is also good for cross-country skiing. A missing trestle a mile north of Klickitat prevents through use in this section, so those wanting to hike or bike the entire trail need to use Hwy 142 for the 3+ miles between the town of Klickitat and the Wahkiacus trailhead.   The 2+ mile section of trail going from Wahkiacus toward Klickitat is a lovely hike, but dead-ends at the missing trestle.

Most of the land adjacent to the trail is private and it is very important to respect private property by staying on the trail and keeping your dogs leashed and on the trail. Dogs are permitted on leash only.   Adjacent landowners have poultry and livestock and there is open-range grazing of cattle and sheep, especially in the section from the Fisher Hill Trestle to Pitt and in the Harms Rd. area. Also, rattle snakes, ticks, and poison oak can be hazards to dogs and people alike everywhere along the trail.


Photo: Pam Essley

There is a bathroom with running water and a drinking fountain at the Lyle trailhead available in warmer weather, and an outhouse there in winter.   Outhouses are also provided at the Pitt, Wahkiacus, and Harms Rd. trailheads. The entire 31 miles of the Klickitat Trail is open for your recreational enjoyment most of the year.

Copyright © 2021 Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC)  All rights reserved
…last updated 6/1/2021