If you’re planning to ride a bicycle tour the length of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail this summer, you better wrap it up before Aug. 22.
That’s when the trail through the Army’s Yakima Training Center will be closed due to construction. The dates are Aug. 22 through Oct. 1.
The rail-trail runs through the training center for about 21 miles from I-90 east of Kittitas to the Columbia River. Unlike the forested trail that most people know on the western slope of the Cascades, the trail through the Yakima Training Center is an arid, treeless, windswept terrain.
According to a Washington parks department press release, a detour will be made available through Vantage. The best route appears to be the Vantage Highway, which runs for about 23 miles between Vantage and Kittitas on the north side of I-90.
Meanwhile, the Boylston Tunnel at the western end of the training center will remain closed because of safety concerns. There is a deter there as well.
The John Wayne Pioneer Trail runs for 256 miles from Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend to the Idaho border. It follows the route of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, which abandoned the corridor more than 35 years ago.
The trail east of the Columbia River has remained largely undeveloped. There has been renewed interest to upgrade it for easier travel ever since some eastern Washington legislators attempted a “land grab” that would have given the land to adjacent property owners.
Ever since that scheme was uncovered last year, more bicyclists have made the effort to travel the eastern stretch and discover its wild beauty.