The state Department of Natural Resources last week closed a section of the cross-state John Wayne Pioneer Trail in eastern Washington for an indefinite period between Beverly and Lind.
In a press release on Friday, the DNR said it closed this segment of the trail due to a lack of funding to perform maintenance.
Although not as well-used as the section west of the Columbia River, the trail through eastern Washington has become a more popular destination for bicycle travelers seeking an off-road across-state route. Bicyclists will have to use rural, 2-lane roads that follow the trail’s route.
The segments of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail that are maintained by the Washington State Parks — west and east of the closed section — remain open.
The John Wayne Pioneer Trail follows the abandoned railroad corridor of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad for about 224 miles across the state from Cedar Falls, near North Bend, to the Idaho border. It’s one of the longest rail-trail conversions in the US, according to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
The trail passes through the linear Iron Horse State Park for 110 miles from Cedar Falls to the Columbia River in western Washington. It’s regulated as a state park, and visitors must use a state Discover Pass to use the parking lots.
East of the Columbia River, the trail is gated and users must have a permit (which includes combinations to the gate locks) to access the trail. DNR says it has stopped issuing permits for the old railroad corridor between Beverly and Lind, although those with existing permits can still access the trail.
The trail is largely unimproved between Beverly and Lind. Although the abandoned railroad corridor runs for about 83 miles through this area, only two sections of 16 and 25 miles were open as trail. The rest has been inaccessible due to missing bridges and landslides.
East of Lind, the trail once again passes through the Iron Horse State Park to the Idaho border, although users must obtain permits to gain access to this section of trail as well. Potential visitors can apply for a permit at Washington State Parks.