Located in southern Washington State, in the heart of the Columbia
River Gorge, the Klickitat Trail follows the first 31 miles of an
old railroad corridor linking the towns of Lyle and
Goldendale. It is unique among rail trails. Nowhere else is
a rail trail that starts in a remote, beautiful tributary canyon,
winds along a nationally designated Wild & Scenic River, and
finishes in one of the nation’s only National Scenic Areas.
The 31-mile gently-graded Trail starts in the breathtaking, remote Swale
Canyon and passes through the small town of Klickitat before following
all 10.5 miles of the beautiful Wild and Scenic Klickitat River, ending
at the trailhead near Lyle, Washington, at the confluence of the
Klickitat and Columbia Rivers. The Trail’s spectacular scenery
includes carved gorges, interesting geologic formations, abundant
wildflowers, rolling oak and ponderosa pine forests, and great birding
opportunities, including winter habitat for bald eagles
near the Lyle trailhead.
The first 17 miles of the Trail follow the Klickitat River, a
nationally designated Wild & Scenic River. The
Trail then heads east, through Swale Creek Canyon, a pristine area
that is extraordinarily scenic, ecologically significant, and
largely isolated from human activity. The rugged, remoteness
of Swale Canyon draws mountain bikers and adventurers.
Beautiful carved n arrow gorges of the Klickitat and Swale
Canyons, with their rolling oak and pine forested hillsides,
host spectacular wildflower displays and provide topnotch birding
opportunities. The Klickitat Trail is truly a gem of the
Columbia River Gorge and the Pacific Northwest.
Hill Bridge Trestle over the Wild & Scenic Klickitat River
This multi-use trail is ideal for a variety of
recreational uses throughout the seasons. The trail in
winter brings a landscape of quiet solitude and offers the
chance to cross-country ski or enjoy unique ice formations
along the cliffs. Spring delivers green-draped hills
with a profusion of wildflowers. The landscape turns
to shades of beige and brown by early summer. Birding
opportunities await year 'round. Fishing is popular --
the Klickitat River is home to Coho and Chinook salmon as
well as steelhead trout. By fall the oaks and maples
are putting on a last burst of color in the cool crisp
air. Horse use on the trail is not currently
allowed. However, that may change in the future as the
Master Planning process evolves.
Ancient traditions continue near the trail. The
Klickitat River is one of only two Native American dip-net
fisheries in the Columbia River Basin. Dramatic and
unique geologic landscapes can also be seen. Steep
columnar basalt cliffs are visible from the trail near
Wahkiacus. And about a mile from the Lyle Trailhead is
an area known as the "Narrows" where the river
squeezes through the basalt flows.
The Trail offers spectacular river and canyon
views throughout its length. The beautiful carved
gorges of the Klickitat and Swale Canyons, with their
rolling oak and pine forested hillsides, host spectacular
wildflower displays and provide topnotch birding
opportunities. These are just a few of the unique
attributes that make this Trail truly a gem of the Columbia
Gorge and Pacific Northwest, enjoyed by the public
throughout the entire year
The Klickitat Trail Conservancy is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting
the Klickitat Rail-to-Trail as a unique recreational asset and legacy for our community.
Every effort is made to ensure that the information provided is accurate and current.
Additions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome.
Last updated April 30, 2013