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Mission Statement of the Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization:  To preserve and promote the public use of the 31-mile Klickitat Trail as a Recreational, Cultural, Natural, Educational, and Economic Asset of Klickitat County.  

Click here to read KTC's Bylaws

A cool hike in the summer.

Along the Wild & Scenic Klickitat River in the Summer.
Photo courtesy of Darryl Lloyd

The Klickitat Trail Story
The Columbia River was Klickitat County's first avenue of commerce, but passage required three separate steam ships and difficult portages around three impassable stretches: the Cascades (near present-day Bonneville Dam in Skamania County), the Grand Dalles, and Celilo Falls. In 1851 a donkey-powered portage railroad was constructed to bypass the Cascades at Stevenson, Washington. This was the first railroad built in the Columbia Gorge. Beginning in 1862 the Oregon Steam Navigation Company ran short portage railroad lines on the Oregon side of the river, but it was not until March 11, 1908 when James J. Hill's (1828-1916) Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway began providing service along the North bank of the Columbia through Klickitat County that Klickitat County farmers could transport their crops by rail and logging railroads operating in Willard and Klickitat could easily ship finished wood to market. This railroad also ran a branch line to Goldendale. [source: http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm]

The Columbia River & Northern Railroad completed a feeder line from Lyle to Goldendale in April 1903 ... and then had to wait five years until the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway reached Lyle with its east-west mainline, thus providing the CR&N with an outlet. With the arrival of the SP&S, Lyle was to become a vital shipping point for sheep and wheat. Centerville, at SP&S Milepost 35.9, was a one of the regionís important wheat-growing areas in this era.

The SP&S purchased the 42-mile Columbia River & Northern Railroad line that ran from Lyle to Goldendale in March 1908, after the SP&S mainline through the Gorge was completed. The line, which paralleled the scenic Klickitat River for much of its route, became the Goldendale Branch of the SP&S. The Goldendale Branch was the only SP&S branchline in Washington. In the 1920s, SP&S operated a daily passenger train from Portland to Goldendale and back. This schedule continued for several years, until the highway opened between Klickitat and Lyle and automobile travel became a more convenient option.

The SP&S was merged into the newly formed Burlington Northern Railroad in 1970. In the early 1990s, due to declining traffic on the Goldendale Branch, the BN line was taken out of service. In 1993, the rails and ties were removed from the branchline. [source: "The Goldendale Branch of the SP&S by Jesse Burkhardt, Klickitat Trail Conservancy Trail Notes, Spring 2005]

The railroad right-of-way was purchased in 1993 by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.  Ownership of the rail line was transferred to Washington State Parks in 1994.  Despite some local opposition, public support prevailed.  In 2003, local supporters of the Trail formed the Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC).  The Trail, a public right of way, is now managed cooperatively by Washington State, the U.S. Forest Service, and the KTC.

In 2007-2008, the U.S. Forest Service completed its Trail management and development plan which includes a partnership with the Klicktitat Trail Conservancy and Washington State Parks. This is the plan under which all three organizations are currently working.

  KTC Board of Directors    

President:  Cheryl Steindorf

  Klickitat, Washington

Vice President:  Barbara Robinson

  Rowena, Oregon
  Secretary:  Laura Bales   Klickitat, Washington
  Treasurer:   Pam Essley   Lyle, Washington
  Jim Minick   Lyle, Washington
  Jim Denton   Odell, Oregon
  Bev Linde   Goldendale, Washington
  Nancy Allen   Wasco, Oregon
  Steven Woolpert   Lyle, Washington
  Ashleigh Reason Coyner   White Salmon, Washington

KTC Background
We began organizing our first Saturday hikes in August 2002, which planted the seeds for an organization that was to become the Klickitat Trail Conservancy. Since then, our group of supporters and trail users has taken root, committed to making the dream of an improved Klickitat Trail become a reality. The first few years of organization were action packed and much has been accomplished through the efforts of many individuals.

  Formation of the Klickitat Trail Conservancy, a non-profit organization with IRS-designated 501(c) (3) status.

  Formation of a board of directors to help the organization prosper and ensure progress in trail projects and improvement, as well as to communicate with Washington State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.

  Countless hours of volunteer efforts conducting regular trail maintenance activities.

  Organized bi-monthly trail hikes and mountain bike rides on various sections of the trail.

  Placement of toilets at trailheads.

  Interpretive kidsí hikes in Klickitat and Lyle.

  Ongoing communication with the staff of the Yakama Nation to learn how we can help restore salmon runs in Swale Canyon.

  A website:  www.klickitat-trail.org

  Improved relations with adjacent landowners and those originally opposed to the trail.

  Presentation of $5,000 to Washington State Parks Commission, meeting the financial commitment we made to offset costs incurred by their lifting of the trail closure in February 2003.


Copyright © 2003-2014 Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC). All rights reserved.
Klickitat Trail Conservancy, P.O. Box 512, Lyle, WA 98635
Last updated 10/17/14