Travels with the Original Easyrider®
2011 Edition

Ride to Lyle, Washington and
Hike the Klickitat Rail Trail
180 mile round trip ride to Lyle
62 total miles, in and out hike
August 2, 2011

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Getting there: The Klickitat Rail Trail starts at a well marked trailhead and
parking area at the junction of Washington State Route 14 and SR 142. It is about
10 miles East of Bingen and the Hood River/ White Salmon bridge.

This hiking trail has been here for a few years but the trailhead was just built
a few months ago. Sections of this trail are popular with the locals but like the
Crown Zellerbach and Banks Vernonia Linear Park Trails, the Klickitat Rail trail
is a bit long to do in it's entirety, in one shot.

Based on my research so far, this trail appears to run along the track bed of the
old Columbia Railroad and Navigation Company line that ran from Lyle to Goldendale
starting in the late 1800's. Still looking for information and pictures of this trail
from those early pioneer days. If you have anything to share, I'd be very grateful.

I will be doing this hike in segments. The first segment is described below. It goes
from the Lyle trailhead at the junction of SR 14 and SR 142 to the Pitt trailhead at
Fish On Road, 10 miles away. This is a LONG 20 mile round trip hike.
This is the most popular and well maintained section of the Klickitat Rail Trail.

The second segment runs from the Pitt trailhead to the Horsesbend Road trailhead.

The final leg of this hike runs through Swale Canyon.

Pictures from our 2012 Swale Canyon hike

Here's some pictures of the Klickitat Rail Trail caboose

The 9th anniversary celebration of the Klickitat Rail Trail.

The 10th anniversary celebration of the Klickitat Rail Trail.

The official web site for the Klickitat Rail Trail is

A nice visit to the Mineral Springs.

It was warm and sunny out here as it often is East of the Cascades. Low 80's and
not a lot of shade. I had three large bottles of frozen ice water and that was
sufficient but certainly not too much. I also had a bottle of cold water waiting
for me on Suzy for my return. I didn't see any but there are supposed to be
rattlesnakes out here. This is certainly the habitat that they like.

Many of these images, including the map below, can be enlarged by clicking in them.

Requirements (that are enforced) for dogs on a leash are very much to my liking.

Here's a nice girl I ran into along the way who obviously knows how to read. One of
these nice, small town girls are worth 20 self indulgent, Multnomah County Scofflaws any day.

The Fisher Hill bridge is a popular turn around point. It's a little over 1 1/2
miles from the Lyle trailhead. The "crowds" definitely thin out past this point.

The Klickitat River is fast moving and the water is refreshingly cold. The water
may be clean enough to drink although it has a grey-ish color. There are usually
at least a few people fishing here which implies that the fishing is good. I'm guessing
mostly salmon and trout.

There are milepost markers each and every mile (so far), which is unusual in
my hiking experience.

This strange looking device, found upstream from the Fisher Hill Bridge, is a rotary
screw trap. It is used to monitor the out-migration of juvenile salmonids from the spawning
and rearing areas in the Klickitat basin above the location of the trap. The traps are
designed to float in the main channel and capture fish moving downstream. Fish enter
the trap through the spinning rotary blades, and are funneled into a box where they
are held until the trap is checked.

This footbridge doesn't seem very old but it's definitely seen better days....

This cross is anchored in concrete but there's no indication of who the dead guy is.
I'm guessing this was a fishing or white water rafting fatality.

There's some interesting structures along this trail....

There are no specific markers to confirm this, but I'm guessing that this is the
Pitt trailhead. At Fish On Road... milepost 10 is just across highway 142.

If you continue this hike, described HERE, just walk across the street and head down the trail towards the milepost 10 marker.

The Goldendale branch of the SP&S railroad line.
By Jessie Burkhardt

The Columbia River & Northern Railroad completed a feeder line from Lyle to Goldendale in April 1903 and then had to wait five years until the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway reached Lyle with its east-west mainline, thus providing the CR&N with an outlet. With the arrival of the SP&S, Lyle was to become a vital shipping point for sheep and wheat. Centerville, at SP&S Milepost 35.9, was a one of the region's important wheat-growing areas in this era.

The SP&S purchased the 42-mile Columbia River & Northern Railroad line that ran from Lyle to Goldendale in March 1908, after the SP&S mainline through the Gorge was completed. The line, which paralleled the scenic Klickitat River for much of its route, became the Goldendale Branch of the SP&S. The Goldendale Branch was the only SP&S branchline in Washington.

In the 1920s, SP&S operated a daily passenger train from Portland to Goldendale and back. This schedule continued for several years, until the highway opened between Klickitat and Lyle and automobile travel became a more convenient option.

The SP&S provided daily freight service to serve the town of Klickitat's lumber mill, which was less than a quarter mile north of the depot in Klickitat (Milepost 13.4). The SP&S based a local crew at nearby Lyle to serve the mill and other stations along the 42-mile branchline to Goldendale. The St. Regis Paper Co. took over operations at the Klickitat sawmill from the J. Neils Lumber Co. in January 1957.

A logging railroad known as the Klickitat Log & Lumber Co., a subsidiary of St. Regis, connected with the SP&S tracks at Klickitat. The KL&L operated logging trains that wound through the woods north from the St. Regis mill in Klickitat. Logs were loaded onto flatcars in the woods for transport back to the mill. The company's logging lines reached from the Klickitat sawmill to within "whistle distance" of Mount Adams. At one time, logging spur lines reached as much as 75 miles out of Klickitat, stretching almost to the White Salmon River north of Trout Lake, and it is estimated that between 1939-1964, the logging trains hauled 133,900 cars of pine logs to the Klickitat sawmill, at a rate of 30-35 cars daily. The SP&S Goldendale Branch was the KL&L's connection to the outside world.

The SP&S was merged into the newly formed Burlington Northern Railroad in 1970. In the early 1990s, due to declining traffic on the Goldendale Branch, the BN line was taken out of service. In 1993, the rails and ties were removed from the branchline. The closure of the mill at Klickitat in the early 1990s was one of the key reasons the branchline was abandoned.

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