Klickitat Rail Trail

  • Easy (to third bridge)
  • 3.8 miles round trip
  • 60 feet elevation loss
  • Open October through June
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Moderate (to bedrock pools)
  • 7.8 miles round trip
  • 270 feet elevation loss

  • Difficult (to Wahkiacus, with shuttle)
  • 12.4 miles one way
  • 980 feet elevation loss

After trains stopped running along the Klickitat River north of The Dalles, the non-profit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired 31 miles of the old railbed and turned it over to the Washington State Parks as a long, skinny park, surrounded by private land. Perhaps the most dramatic section of this new path traces remote, roadless Swale Canyon for 12.4 miles, down from a treeless plateau to the settlement of Wahkiacus. Even if you hike only a small portion you’ll see spring wildflowers, rimrock cliffs, birds, and old railroad trestles. The route is so sunny that it closes during the summer fire season, when it’s too hot to hike anyway.

If you can’t arrange a car shuttle, simply hike …

Other Options

A missing Klickitat River trestle interrupts the trail between Wahkiacus and the town of Klickitat, but …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington.