With 82 rail-trails in Washington state and 19 in Oregon, how can a bicyclist choose which trails to ride? More than 1,000 miles of rail-trails suitable for bicycling wind across Washington’s landscape, with some 300 miles of trails in Oregon.
The guidebook just came out in May. It explores 42 trails in the two states (33 in Washington and 9 in Oregon). They run the gamut from the busy Burke Gilman Trail in Seattle to the remote Willapa Hills Trail that connects Chehalis with South Bend.
As the back cover points out:
“The development of the railroads led to the creation of the prominent western cities, and now, many rail-trails, such as Portland’s 21.5-mile Springwater Corridor, serve as connections for neighborhoods, parks, businesses, and much more.”
Many of the rail-trails connect distant towns. The Chehalis-Western, Woodland, and Yelm-Tenino rail-trail network in Thurston County links Olympia, Lacey, Rainier and other small towns with off-road connections.
The trails that pass through wide rural areas of Washington and Oregon offer a full helping of scenic delights, such as waterfalls, rushing rivers, dense forests, and views of snow-covered volcanic summits.
The nation’s longest rail-trail — the John Wayne Pioneer Trail — passes for more than 250 miles from the wet western slopes of the Cascades to the desert-like sands of the Columbia Gorge to the irrigated farmland of eastern Washington.
Each trail description is accompanied by a map that shows start and end points, parking, trail heads, restrooms and drinking water. The trail descriptions note the trail surface, difficulty, railroad history and important landmarks or interesting highlights along the way.
There are directions to the beginning of each trail. A legend alongside the trail description tells what uses are popular on the trails. Bicycling or mountain biking is encouraged for all the trails, except the Coal Creek Trail in King County.
The book is available as part of a membership promotion for Rails to Trails Conservancy. It’s available in soft cover and and eGuidebook. It’s also available from Amazon.
Here’s a list of the trails reviewed:
Bill Chipman Palouse Trail
Cedar River Trail
Centennial Trail State Park
Chehalis Western Trail
Coal Creek Trail
Cowiche Canyon Trail
East Lake Sammamish Trail
Elliott Bay Trail
Fish Lake Trail
Interurban Trail (Bellingham)
Interurban Trail (north)
Interurban Trail (south)
John Wayne Pioneer Trail
Lower Yakima Valley Pathway
Olympic Discovery Trail (3 segments)
Sammamish River Trail
Snohomish County Centennial Trail
Snoqualmie Valley Trail
South Bay Trail
Tommy Thompson Trail
Wallace Falls Railyway Trail
Willapa Hills Trail
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Deschutes River Railbed Trail
I-205 Multi-Use Path
Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail
OC&E Woods Line State Trail
Row River Trail