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Cowiche Canyon Professional Review and Guide
"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."
--Alan L. Bauer & Dan A. Nelson, Best Desert Hikes Washington (The Mountaineers Books).
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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