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Washington State Parks

USA Parks
Columbia Plateau Trail State Park
Picnic Table ©
It is always a great day for a picnic in the park.
Afternoon Hike ©
100 SW Main Street
Washtucna, Washington   99371
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, re-told at interpretive kiosks on the trail. Scenic vistas reward the visitor who undertakes this sometimes challenging hike. Currently 23 miles of the trail between Lincoln County and Cheney are developed and open for public use. Activities include hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, in-line skating, nature viewing, bird watching, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. 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, in the near future, equestrians.

The park is open year round from 6:30 a.m. to dusk.
Nature of the Area
Wildlife Mammals Birds Fish & Sea Life? Badgers? Bears? Bobcats? Chipmunks? Coyotes? Deer or Elk? Marmots? Moose? Rabbits? Raccoons? Skunks? Squirrels? Chukars? Crows or Ravens? Doves or Pigeons? Ducks? Eagles? Geese? Grouse? Gulls? Hawks? Herons? Hummingbirds? Jays? Ospreys? Owls? Pheasants? Quail? Snipes? Swans? Turkeys? Woodpeckers? Wrens

Environmental Features 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? Apple? Birch? Poplar? Daisy? Foxglove? Lupines? Orchids? Paintbrush? Rhododendron? Rose? Berries? Carnivorous Plants? Ferns? Moss or Lichens? Thistle? Poison Oak? Poison Ivy
History of the Area
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 trestle over Burr Canyon, built in 1908, is listed as a state and national historic landmark.

Park Store
Services/Supplies Available in the area

? Auto repair? Airport? Boat rental? Camping? Diesel? Fishing/hunting? Gasoline? Gifts? Golf? Groceries? Hardware? Hospital? Marine supplies? Overnight Accommodations? Pay phone? Postal service? Propane? Wood? Swimming

RV repairs and supplies as well as bank/cash machines are available nearby.
County-owned Fish Lake is adjacent to the trail and offers boat ramp availability.

Columbia Plateau Trail State Park is located near Pasco

Covered, ADA-accessible picnic tables are available at Cheney and Fish Lake trailheads.
Area Attractions
Activities Trails Water Activities Other

? 23 mi. ADA Hiking Trails? 23 mi. Hiking Trails? 23 mi. Bike Trails? 19 mi. Horse Trails? 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.

Winter Recreation

? Cross-country Skiing? Snowshoeing? Snow Play

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
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Nearby Hotels

Located between Cheney, Wash. and the tri-cities area (Pasco, Richland and Kennewick) in Adams and Whitman Counties.

Columbia Plateau Trail may be accessed by several trailheads by following the signs after exiting I-90.Westbound 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).Eastbound 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).


Washington State Parks