Cowiche Canyon Trail

Yakima County, Washington

Distance1.8mi
Elevation Gain349ft
Trailhead Elevation1,491ft
Top1,491ft
Elevation Min/Max1325/1491ft
Elevation Start/End1491/1491ft

Cowiche Canyon Trail

Cowiche Canyon Trail is a hiking trail in Yakima County, Washington. It is 1.8 miles long and begins at 1,491 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 349 feet. This trail connects with the following: East Uplands Trail, Winery Trail and Lone Pine Trail.

Cowiche Canyon Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"A group of dedicated volunteers with the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy worked for years to develop this trail—or, rather, to un-develop this trail—because this old railroad right-of-way is now a path through a wild wonderland. In short, this trail could be the crown jewel in Washington’s collection of rails-to-trails.

The old train line path weaves through an astounding set of deep road cuts and over a double handful of trestle bridges spanning Cowiche Creek as it climbs through this stunning canyon. The path in the canyon bottom follows a portion of the old 1880s railroad route that stretched from Yakima to the Tieton area in the Cascade foothills."

"One of the best rail trails in the state, Cowiche Canyon is an interesting pocket of wilderness surrounded by orchards, vineyards and other forms of civilization.

Go in spring for the show of colorful wildflowers. Nearly anytime you go, a radiant blue sky will hang over the canyon’s steep, rocky walls."

"Cowiche Canyon Trail takes you through both geological and railroading history. Slicing through a canyon and crossing the creek repeatedly, this rail trail makes for a tour that’s both dramatic and peaceful. You’ll have many opportunities to observe plant and animal life."

"The Cowiche Canyon Trail takes you through both geological and railroading history. Slicing through a canyon and crossing the creek repeatedly, this rail-trail makes for a tour that’s both dramatic and peaceful. You’ll have many opportunities to observe plant and animal life. Surface: Large gravel and dirt. Location: Yakima, Yakima County."

"There are a handful of places near towns that feel so remote you can lose yourself in solitude. Cowiche Canyon, 6 miles northwest from downtown Yakima, is just such a place! With the tall canyon walls, gentle flowing creeks, well-maintained trails, and seasonal wildflowers, this place is a treasure for both those who care to stroll and those who wish to crank out a swift trail run.

The fairly level path allows “elevationally challenged” hikers to enjoy a leisurely walk without much exertion. Spring and fall are the best times for this hike; summer may be uncomfortably warm."

"One of the best rail trails in the state, Cowiche Canyon is an interesting pocket of wilderness surrounded by orchards, vineyards and other forms of civilization. Go in spring for the show of colorful wildflowers. Nearly anytime you go, a radiant blue sky will hang over the canyon’s steep, rocky walls."

"Ideal for all mountain bikers, this ride is located in a locally maintained conservancy area. The main trail is an old railroad grade. Follow the well-kept gravel road over nine bridges along the Cowiche Creek east to the Scenic Trail. Optional trip is the Overlook Trail between bridges eight and nine. Climb up the canyon to the uplands area for a gorgeous view. Explore with care —the area is a designated shrub-steppe ecosystem, very fragile and home to many rare plants. Stay on existing trails and avoid heading in and out of the canyon when the trails are wet to prevent further problems with erosion."

Cowiche Canyon Trail Reviews

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5/7/2011
This was a little gem of a hike. Went with a group of people of all fitness levels. The main trail is 2.9 miles each way. There are two smaller trails that shoot off of it at about the first mile mark. We did not take either of those. The river snakes in and out of this trail, and its sound accompanies you for pretty much the entire trip. The trail is flat and very well maintained, changing from packed dirt to loose gravel that is almost sand like in its movement. There is no elevation gain to speak of, but there are several opportunities to hike up to higher points. There are beautiful views of rock faces and great examples of a landscape formed by volcanic activity. Watch the trail rock formations carefully for the face in the stone. We didn't see it until the way back. Pretty neat.
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6/8/2010
I love this trail (or network of trails), and ride it 2-3 times per week. It truly has something for everyone: I take my 5 yr old son with me by trailer-bike on the main cowiche canyon trail (which is a great ride except for some places of deep gravel). Then there are the upper loops accessed from the scenic drive parking lot for more of a challenge / workout, and finally there is the more technically challenging descents and snake coil. One trail I don't see on the map is the winery / vineyard trail that originates off of the main canyon trail just west of where the uplands trail connects. It goes up the other side of the canyon and is very steep (mostly off my bike on the way up), but the descent back down is rocky steep and challenging (at least for me). I'm still finding my way around and it's true that the trails are not well marked - but it's a lot of fun and a great ride. There are dogs and hikers - and also watch out for snakes (I have seen them right near the trail 3 or 4 times). I'll post some pictures.
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5/3/2009
Awesome trail. At least for my fiancee and I (who are beginners). We mostly stayed on the main trail which I feel was easier then the side trails. One thing to be aware of is that there are alot of dogs here. If you are not a fan of dogs you might want to try to go at off hours. That being said most of the dogs we encountered were great (better trained then ours even) and minded their own business. We have hiked all over Cowiche and know that there are some nice steep grades once you venture off the main trail. Once we get into biking more we will be exploring them as well. So we feel like the guide says both experts and beginners will enjoy themselves here.
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Cowiche Canyon Trail Photos

Trail Information

Yakima County
Nearby City
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
Mountain Biking
Additional Use
Wildflowers
Features
Cowiche Canyon Conservatory, Yakima; (509) 248-5065; cowichecanyon.org
Local Contacts
Cowiche Canyon maps, available online at Cowichecanyon.org (Maps are also sometimes available at a trailhead kiosk.)
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018