Columbia Plateau Trail State Park is a 4,109-acre, 130-mile-long rail-bed trail that traces the 1908 original path of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad. The route is most accessible at Cheney, with other less accessible points along the way. The route is steeped in history, with scenic vistas along the trail. Currently 23 miles of the trail between Lincoln County and Cheney are developed and open for public use. Another 15 miles of trail from Ice Harbor Dam to Snake River Junction are open to hikers and bicyclers. Activities include hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, in-line skating, nature viewing, bird watching, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.Want to support Washington State Parks? Get involved by joining a friends' group. For more information, visit the Friends' Group web page.
The park is open year round from 6:30 a.m. to dusk.
Winter Schedule for all Washington State Parks
Don't move firewood: Please protect the Pacific Northwest from invasive species by obtaining or purchasing your firewood at or near your camping destination (within 50 miles). Firewood can carry insects and diseases that threaten the health of our western forests. You can make a difference by buying and burning your firewood locally. For more information, visit online at www.dontmovefirewood.org or the Washington Invasive Species Council website.
The Discover Pass now can be used on either of two vehicles!Annual pass: $30
One-day pass: $10
(Transaction and dealer fees may apply)
A Discover Pass is required for motor-vehicle access to state parks and recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Exemptions:
Your purchase of the Discover Pass supports recreation on state lands. However, the Discover Pass is not required if you are camping or renting overnight accommodations, for the duration of your stay at that state park. For additional exemptions and more information, please visit the Discover Pass website
Contact the park at (509) 646-9218 for information.
Located between Cheney, Wash. and the Tri-Cities area (Pasco, Richland and Kennewick) in Adams, Franklin, Lincoln, Spokane and Whitman Counties.
100 SW Main Street
Washtucna, WA 99371
Columbia Plateau Trail North address:
Riverside State Park
9711 W. Charles Rd
Nine Mile Falls, WA 99026
Columbia Plateau Trail may be accessed by several trailheads by following the signs after exiting I-90.
Take exit 270 (Four Lakes/Cheney) to access Fish Lake Trailhead (8.4 miles from I-90), Cheney Trailhead (7.5 miles from I-90), Amber Lake Trailhead (19.2 miles from I-90) and Martin Road Trailhead (29.5 miles from I-90).
Take exit 245 (Sprague/Harrington) to access Martin Road Trailhead (8 miles from I-90) and Amber Lake Trailhead (21.1 miles from I-90). Take exit 257 (Cheney/Tyler) to access Cheney Trailhead (11.9 miles from I-90) and Fish Lake Trailhead (15 miles from I-90).
Snake River Trailhead, milepost 256.2
Southbound 395 to 182 to Highway 12:
Take Kahlotus exit and drive northeast on the Pasco/Kahlotus Highway. Travel approximately 23.5 miles to Snake River Road. Turn right, and drive 4.6 miles to Lake Sacajawea and Snake River Junction Trailhead.
Parking (including equestrian units), restroom, picnic shelter, table and an informational kiosk.
Ice Harbor Dam Trailhead, milepost 241.9
Southbound 395 to 182 to Highway 12:
Take Kahlotus exit and drive northeast on the Pasco/Kahlotus Highway. Travel approximately 9.9 miles to Ice Harbor Dam Road. Turn right, and drive three miles. Make a left turn just before road onto the dam. It is .3 miles to trailhead from this point.
Parking (including equestrian units), restroom, informational kiosk and boat launch.
Columbia Plateau Trail downloadable pdf map #1
Columbia Plateau Trail downloadable pdf map #2
List of all downloadable Washington State Park maps
Wildlife viewing is a very popular attraction along the Columbia Plateau Trail as it passes 4.75 miles through the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. Many large animals can be seen such as deer, elk and moose. More than 200 species of birds have been identified, and the area is famed for the visiting trumpeter swans. The best times for wildlife viewing is early morning and evening. Spring migration occurs from mid-March through mid-May, while fall migration is from September through November.
While enjoying your trek through the refuge, you can read from several interpretive panels on topics such as wildlife, the Ice Age Floods and wetlands. The trail is open to hikers, bicyclers and equestrians.
In the early 1900s, the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway Company constructed a rail bed in the area. The company, which never actually connected the line from Portland to Seattle, operated the steam, and later diesel, railway for more than 50 years. It was said that the owner, James Hill, promoted the railway as a Seattle connection only to mislead competing railroad developers. The Burlington Northern Company operated the rail line for many years after, until the company abandoned it in 1987. State Parks acquired the land in 1991. Remains of reservoirs, reservoir flumes and homes of former railroad employees and other developments also are apparent along sections of the trail. The historic trestle over Burr Canyon was built in 1908.
There are currently no interpretive opportunities at this park.
| ||Available in the area|
| ||• Auto repair|
• Boat rental
• Marine supplies
• Overnight Accommodations
• Pay phone
• Postal service
RV repairs and supplies as well as bank/cash machines are available nearby.
|• 48 mi. ADA Hiking Trails|
• 48 mi. Hiking Trails
• 48 mi. Bike Trails
• 34 mi. Horse Trails
|• 1 Amphitheater|
• Bird Watching
• Interpretive Activities
• Mountain Biking
• Wildlife Viewing
The park permits no fires or trespassing on adjacent land.
County-owned Fish Lake is reachable by trail and offers fishing.
Free days at state parks
: Visit Washington state parks for free. The Discover Pass is not required to visit a state park on ten designated free days in 2013.
The 2013 State Parks free days are as follows:
Jan. 21 – In honor of Martin Luther King Day
March 30 – In honor of Washington State Parks' 100th birthday on March 19
April 27 and 28 – National Parks Week
June 1 – National Trails Day
June 8 and 9 – National Get Outdoors Day and Department of Fish and Wildlife Free Fishing weekend
Aug. 4 – Peak season free day
Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
Nov. 9 through 11 – Veteran's Day weekend
Please note: A Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during State Parks free days. For more information, please visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov
Full list of events
at Washington State Parks
County-owned Fish Lake is adjacent to the trail and offers boat ramp availability.
• Cross-country Skiing
• Snow Play
Picnic and Day-use Facilities
Covered, ADA-accessible picnic tables are available at Cheney, Fish Lake and Snake River Junction trailheads.
|Mammals||Birds||Fish & Sea Life|
• Deer or Elk
• Crows or Ravens
• Doves or Pigeons
|Physical Features|| ||Plant Life|| |
|About 15 million years ago, huge outpourings of basaltic lava buried the Eastern Washington landscape under a sea of lava. Much later, during the Ice Age, some of the largest documented floods to ever occur raced across Eastern Washington, carving out a landscape of basalt buttes, basins and canyons. A volume of water comparable to some of today’s Great Lakes was unleashed when an ice dam in northern Idaho burst. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of flood events eroded the lava surface into the unique landscape known as the "Channeled Scabland." Trail visitors will see stark reminders of one of the world’s largest volcanic fields eroded by the cataclysmic Ice Age Floods.|
A nearby wildlife refuge has many small lakes, ponds and sloughs. Waterfowl, marsh birds and land birds are attracted to this region because of its diverse landscape. Desert to forest and coniferous to deciduous, the land encourages diverse fowl and mammals.
| ||• Douglas Fir|
• Ponderosa Pine
• Carnivorous Plants
• Moss or Lichens
• Poison Oak
• Poison Ivy
Park photo gallery
We'll be adding photos to this page soon.