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Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC)


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. 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 Klickitat Trail is a Washington State Park.

UPDATE on SWALE CANYON closure during trail upgrades:
Start date of closure: June 21, 2024
End date of closure: April 1, 2025
The Swale Canyon section of Klickitat Trail will be closed to public entry effective 06/21/24. This is due to a combination of factors including increased seasonal fire danger and the improvement project.
Closure is from Harms Road to Wahkiacus. It does not impact the rest of the Trail between Lyle and Klickitat.

Swale Canyon is a unique resource and upgrades such as decking and railings on the many trestles, removal of debris piles, and placement of gravel in the many sections of the trail where the original railroad ballast rock made travel difficult. Significantly, the debris piles removed from Swale Canyon are anticipated to be utilized in the pending Suburbia Bridge replacement project.

Replacement of the Suburbia bridge (removed following the ’96 flood) is slowly moving forward. Washington State Parks officials report 3 proposals continue to move through the design and permitting process. The currently preferred proposal, a suspension design, is “favorably” supported by tribal representatives. A final design is expect in 6-8 months. Completion of this bridge, relieving the need to travel on Hwy 142 to continue on the Klickitat Trail, is a high priority of KTC.

Click here to read KTC’s 2023 Year End News

Photo: Annick Chalier

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!

This view is from the Harms Road trailhead access into Swale Canyon.

The Trail’s spectacular scenery includes carved gorges, interesting geologic formations, abundant wildflowers, rolling hills, oak and Ponderosa Pine woodlands. Great birding opportunities in abundance all along the Trail, 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.

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.

Copyright © 2024 Klickitat Trail Conservancy (KTC)  All rights reserved
last updated 6/25/202