Washington’s Longest Bike Trail to Get Huge Boost in 2022 with Opening of Bridge Over Columbia River
Historic Beverly Bridge to open “in early 2022,” connecting easten and western sections of the 288-mile Palouse to Cascades trail.
“People will come from around the country to use this new bridge.”
The historic Beverly Bridge over the Columbia River is expected to open to bikes within the next few months, a milestone achievement in the development of the 288-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail that spans much of Washington state.
“Work on the Beverly Bridge is just finishing up, and the bridge will be available to trail users in early 2022,” said Randy Kline, a trail planner with the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, which oversees the Palouse to Cascades trail.
Located in central Washington, the former railroad bridge is undergoing a $5.5 million retrofit to add railings and decking to make it safe for people biking and walking. The bridge’s completion will connect the eastern and western halves of the Palouse to Cascades trail, which runs from the Idaho border to just outside of Seattle. Washington Bikes, the sister organization of Cascade Bicycle Club, was instrumental in securing funding from legislators in Olympia to complete the bridge project.
Workers installing decking and railings in November. Photo: Randy Kline.
Kline didn’t know a precise date for the opening when we spoke with him in early December, but we will update this post and share the news on Cascade social media.
A scenic and historic landmark, the Beverly Bridge is nearly three-quarters of a mile long and passes almost 70 feet above the river. “Absolutely spectacular” is how Fred Wert, chairperson of the Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition, describes the Beverly Bridge.
“It is one of the few places where you can ride over the Columbia River that’s not on a highway. It’s peaceful and quiet, with huge terrain all around you,” Wert said.
One of the Most Exciting New Bike Bridges in the Country
“People will come from around the country to use this new bridge, both for short- and long-distance trips,” said Kevin Belanger, manager of trail planning for the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes are members of the Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition, and Washington Bikes pushed for full funding of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program that pays for trails including the Palouse to Cascades. Washington Bikes also supported a $5.7 million appropriation to the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation to fund the Beverly Bridge repairs.
Photo courtesy of Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition, Marilyn Hedges.
"The Beverly Bridge is one of the most exciting new pieces of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the country, and it shows why Washington is repeatedly ranked the most bicycle friendly state in the nation,” said Alex Alston, state policy director for Washington Bikes. “Our goal is to create cross-state multi-use trails that improve rural economic development, attract bicycle tourists from around the region and world, and allow people to ride through Washington’s magnificent landscapes on off-road routes free of vehicle traffic.”
A grand opening ceremony will be held at the Beverly Bridge later in the year, following the “soft opening” in early 2022. To find the latest information on the opening date, check the State Parks and Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition websites, as well as the Cascade Blog.
The Palouse to Cascades Trail
The Beverly Bridge project is part of about $10 million of work underway or recently completed on the Palouse to Cascades trail, which at 288 miles long is among the longest rail trails in the nation. The national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has identified the Palouse to Cascades as a key segment in the Great American Rail-Trail under development from Washington, D.C., to Washington state.
At its westernmost point at Cedar Falls, near the town of North Bend, the Palouse to Cascades trail connects to the 30-mile Snoqualmie Valley Trail. The eventual goal is to connect the Palouse to Cascades to the many trails and bike routes that cross the Puget Sound region, with opportunities to ride a ferry to the Olympic Peninsula and bike all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Other new construction highlights on the Palouse to Cascades trail include:
Completion of the Renslow Trestle that crosses over Interstate 90 just east of Ellensburg. Opened to bikes in 2021, it eliminated a long road detour for people on bikes.
Renslow Trestle. Photo: Marilyn Hedges.
Completion in 2022 of the two small Crab Creek Bridges that burned in 2020 and 2021, necessitating a road detour.
Repairing two small bridges and resurfacing the trail between the small towns of Malden and Rosalia. South of Spokane, this nine-mile segment of the trail offers “a nice opportunity for people to come down from Spokane for a great day’s riding,” Kline says.
The Tekoa Trestle (pronounced Tee-Ko) is a dramatic bridge about six miles from the Idaho border that passes through the middle of the town of Tekoa. Concrete decking and railings were being installed, and Kline expected the bridge to open in 2022.
Bike through Tekoa high above the town on the Tekoa Trestle. Photo: Mark Borleske.
Washington’s Five Long Distance Trails
The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is one of five long-distance biking and hiking trails managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Among these is the 56-mile Willapa Hills State Park Trail, which we will write about in an upcoming blog post. The other four long-distance trails are:
The 31-mile Klickitat Trail that runs north to south between the towns of Klickitat and Lyle. The trail passes through the oak and pine forests of Swale Canyon, as well as rural farmlands in eastern Washington. Learn more on the state parks website.
The Spokane River Centennial Trail spans 40 miles between Spokane and the Idaho border, where it connects to Idaho’s North Idaho Centennial Trail that travels all the way to Coeur d’Alene. The state is resurfacing about 12 miles of asphalt on the trail, which has more than 40 historically important sites, according to the state parks website.
The 130-mile Columbia Plateau Trail is a work in progress with major potential for long-distance bike touring but no funding yet to complete the work. Running between Cheney, home to Eastern Washington University, and Pasco, at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers, the trail intersects with the Palouse to Cascades--providing impetus to find money for its repair.
To continue progress on these trails, Washington Bikes will support full funding for the WWRP in 2023 when legislators take up the next biennial budget. Until then, get ready to ride over the Beverly Bridge--and watch for our upcoming post about the Willapa Hills State Park Trail. See more photos of the Palouse to Cascades Trail in our story "Pedaling the Snoqualmie Tunnel and Training for the Ride for Major Taylor."