Eight years after a destructive storm washed out two major bridges on southwestern Washington’s Willapa Hills Trail, Lewis County says those two bridges have been replaced and opened this week. [See map below]
Discover Lewis County reports:
“A major milestone in construction on the Willapa Hills Trail will connect more than a dozen miles of trail to outdoor enthusiasts in West Lewis County.”
The removal of the obstacles at the two Chehalis River crossings opens up a clear path between Adna and the mid-point town of Pe Ell, a distance of some 12 miles. There is still a long bridge over the Chehalis River near Adna that needs redecking, which the state says will be complete in the spring of 2016 to complete a clear route all the way to Chehalis.[Although that bridge is officially closed, in 2014 I was able to cross it after dismounting my bike and stepping carefully on the old railroad ties. That bridge might be completely inaccessible as contractors work on the bridge, however. ]
Let’s hope the completion of the new bridges brings more bicycle, horse and pedestrian traffic to the old route of the Northern Pacific Railway.
The trail is paved for about five miles at either end at Chehalis in the east to South Bend in the west. In between the trail is compacted gravel, rougher in some places than others.
It passes through scenic farm country and crosses a low pass in the Willapa Hills. Most of the small burgs along the route were at one time lumber boom towns and boast colorful histories.
The completion of the bridges will enable the inaugural Willapa Hills Trail Fat Tire Ride and Festival to proceed. The features a 22-mile bike ride from Chehalis to Pe Ell, overnight camping, and a return ride the next day. The dates are June 25 and 26, 2016.
You can keep track of all the news regarding the rail-trail at Willapa Hills Trail Fans on Facebook.
See below for approximate locations of new bridges (circled)