Planning underway for the John Wayne Pioneer Trail
The John Wayne Pioneer Trail (JWPT), stretching from North Bend to the Washington-Idaho border, is a bike touring dream come true. Two summers ago, when it was time for my son’s first bike camping trip, I knew exactly where we should go: a place with good camping, no cars, cascading streams and great views. That place was the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.
If you have the hankering for a sub 24-hour overnight (S24O), the JWPT is a great choice to sneak in a quick getaway if you live in a community with access. Or you can set out for a longer sojourn, with advice from Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-day Tours in Washington to help you plan.
I believe it’s the perfect place to take a bike camping trip: family friendly with easy grades and beautiful scenery. The 110 miles on the west side, from North Bend to the Columbia River, underwent a planning process in 2000, and this stretch has campsites, trailheads and multiple access points for hikers, equestrians and bikes.
After last year’s failed attempt to close a hundred-plus mile portion of the trail, the situation has changed for the better thanks to passionate advocates across the state, such as the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association, who spoke up in support. Planning is now underway for the section east of the Columbia River. The effort is led by Washington State Parks, and its stakeholder advisory committee, which includes Washington Bikes, Washington Trails Association, Tekoa Trails Association, the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, landowners and other interested parties.
Cascade as well as other organizations and local leaders believe that bike tourism on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail can be an economic engine for small towns along the route, especially since it will be the longest rail-trail in the country. Future opportunities exist to connect the trail with the Route of the Hiawatha and the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes to extend into Idaho, along with all the connections possible to the Spokane River Centennial Trail in the east and the growing regional trail network in the west. Trails like these will ensure Washington state remains one of the best places in the country to ride a bike.
Currently, Washington State Parks is collecting comments on a variety of topics related to the eastern portion of the trail, which stretches 140 miles from the Columbia River to Malden. Please give feedback on these topics by Thursday, March 31.
A second round of public meetings on this section of the trail is planned for late April or May 2016. Stay tuned for updates!