- The longest biking trail in Washington is 285 miles long.
- It covers an astonishing 5,794 acres of land.
- The trailhead starts at North Bend and runs clear to the east side of Idaho.
The state of Washington is abundant with amazing sights of nature, like its volcanic mountains, rolling hills, and the 3 national parks that reside in the state. There are over 135 different trails in Washington that cover over 5,000 miles. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are some easy ways to explore the different trails. If you enjoy long rides, then you are in luck, as in this article, you will learn about the longest biking trail in Washington.
Biking is a great way to get exercise while exploring the surrounding environment. The longest biking trail in Washington does an incredible job at showcasing the state’s diverse landscapes. Let’s take a look at Washington’s longest bike trail, so you can decide if you’re up for the challenge.
The Longest Biking Trail in Washington: Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is the longest biking trail in Washington. This pathway is a rail trail that follows the Milwaukee Road. The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail goes for 285 miles and covers 5,794 acres of land. While in Washington, this trail is a part of the Milwaukee Road right-of-way, which travels east through multiple states.
The entire bike path in Washington is around 285 miles, but Washington State only manages around 250 miles of the trail. This trail starts in the west of North Bend and runs until the eastern border of Idaho.
It is possible to hike, bike, or ride a horse through 250 miles of this trail. The trail follows a fairly linear path, but in order to bike it fully, you must travel on the road and through some cities. Some sections may also be under construction, with detours needed to get to the next area.
For the majority of the trail, you will not find any motorized vehicles, but in the winter, you can use a snowmobile when the snow is heavy. Snowmobiles are only allowed from the Stampede Pass Road to the Cabin Creek segment.
Altogether this 285-mile-long bike path goes through the Adams, Grant, King, Kittitas, Spokane, and Whitman counties in Washington. For those looking to travel the entire trail, there are around 5 campsites to rest at.
History of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
This rail trail is one of the longest in the United States and follows the path of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railway, which was constructed in the 1900s. The 1980s is when the railroad was retired, and the section of the Milwaukee Railway was gained by the state. Originally, the eastern half of the trail was called the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, and the western portion took the name Iron Horse Trail. In 2018, the trail underwent a name change, which is the name it holds today.
Navigating the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
Since the trail is so long, it is essential to plan your trip before taking on the challenge of this bike path. You should make sure the sections you are planning to ride are not closed or undergoing construction. Bringing water is important for staying hydrated on the long stretches that stray away from civilization.
Even though the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is owned by the state of Washington, some sections pass by private property. As you bike down this path, it is essential to respect the property and wilderness you go by. Using a map is key on this route. To reach some segments, you may have to take go off the trail and use back roads to reach the next part.
Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are the possible ways to traverse this trail. Since it is open year-round, in the winter, the trail may be covered in snow.
Segments of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
Below you can find the areas the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail goes through and the estimated miles between each:
- North Bend to Cedar Falls~22 miles
- Cedar Falls to Hyak~17 miles
- Easton to S. Cle Elum~12.11 miles
- S. Cle Elum to Thorp~17.5 miles
- Thorp to Ellensburg~7.8 miles
- Ellensburg to Kittitats~5.9 miles
- Kittitas to Beverly~23.8 miles
- Beverly to Smyrna~12.8 miles
- Smyrna to Othello~27.7 miles
- Othello to Warden~16.6 miles
- Warden to Lind~21.6 miles
- Lind to Ralston~14.8 miles
- Ralston to Marengo~19.2 miles
- Marengo to Ewan~30 miles
- Ewan to Pine City~15.6 miles
- Pine City to Malden~3.3 miles
- Malden to Rosalia~9.6 miles
- Rosallia to Tekoa~19.0 miles
Before taking this journey, it is recommended to visit the trial’s website to see any updates and construction being done currently on the bike path. Permits and registrations are also required on the segments of the trail between the Idaho border and the city of Beverly, and registering for them can be done online.
Where is the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail Located on a Map?
Depending on where you plan to access the trail and which segment you wish to explore, there are several popular entry points worth considering. These include locations such as Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend in King County or Cheney-Palouse Road near Spokane in Whitman County. Each entry point offers its own unique scenery and characteristics along with nearby amenities for visitors’ convenience.
The Difficulty of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
Being the longest biking trail in Washington, the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is extremely difficult to bike fully. Five campgrounds are located on this state park’s trail and are only for those who walk or bike in. The campgrounds are used by those to rest since it takes multiple days to travel this path.
The campsite locations are on:
- Milepost 2109 at Roaring Creek
- Milepost 2113.2 in Cold Creek
- Milepost 2123.2 at Carter Creek
- Milepost 2127.1 in Alice Creek
- Ponderosa Pines at Yakima Canyon
This bike path is best done in segments, and using the state parks map website will let you know all the amenities on this long bike path and where each section is. You can easily plan your route with a map and follow it to prevent getting lost.
Only part of this trail’s path is paved, and most of it is made of gravel and crushed rock. The grade of the bike path varies, with some sections rising several hundred feet in elevation. Some sections of the trail rise above 900 feet in elevation as the trail runs through mountainous regions.
Even for experienced riders, this trail can be difficult due to the large inclines and the total time it takes to bike this path.
Sights to See on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
The large length of the Palouse to Cascades Bike Trail allows it to cover vast areas in Washington. This bike path is abundant with natural beauty as it goes through various ecological zones in the state. The Cascades Range is where this trail begins, which is home to over 75 species of mammals like wolves, grizzly bears, otters, and wolverines.
This bike path takes you through dense woodlands, hills, flatlands, agricultural areas, and rocky mountains. As you bike this trail, you will also pass over several bridges and into tunnels. Of all the biking trails in the state, the Palouse to the Cascades does an excellent job of showing the diverse landscapes Washington offers and gives you a glimpse of its various ecosystems.
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- Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail Maps, Available here: https://palousetocascadestrailmaps.com/trail-information.html
- The Palouse to Cascades Trail , Available here: https://washingtongravelriding.home.blog/2020/08/15/the-palouse-to-cascades-trail/
- Washington State Parks , Available here: https://www.parks.wa.gov/521/Palouse-to-Cascades-Trail