Welcome 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.
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. It is unique among rail trails. Nowhere else is there a rail trail that starts in one of the nation’s only National Scenic Areas, winds along a nationally designated Wild & Scenic River, and finishes by going through a remote, beautiful tributary canyon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 13 mile Swale Canyon section of trail, from the Wahkiacus Trailhead to the Harms Rd trailhead, closes annually in the summer when fire danger is high and re-opens in early fall. All other parts of the trail, including the short section east from Harms Rd., is open year-round.
Copyright © Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC). All rights reserved.
last updated 1/20/15