The 110 mile long western Washington section of the Palouse to Cascades Trail (from the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the Columbia River - see MAPS) is owned and operated by Washington State Parks as the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, (previously the Iron Horse State Park Trail/John Wayne Pioneer Trail) and does not require a permit for day use. However, as with all Washington State Parks, a Discover Pass is required to park at the trailheads. The 22 miles of the PTCT just west of the Columbia River through the Army's Yakima Training Center, is subject to YTC rules. A self-administered sign-in permit is required at the Yakima Training Center trailheads. Please see Army's Yakima Training Center Policy for information, or call the Manager of the YTC Morale, Welfare and Recreation Office at 509-577-3337.
Starting in the west at Cedar Falls (on Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend) the trail climbs east through evergreen forests, crossing high trestles, and traveling under the summit of Snoqualmie Pass through the 2.3 mile long Snoqualmie Tunnel (the longest trail tunnel in the country), before exiting east of the Cascades at Hyak. From there, the trail descends gradually, around the shore of Lake Keechelus, through the Upper Yakima River Canyon and open farmland of the Kittitas Valley, and finally, across the shrub-steppe habitat of the Army's Yakima Training Center to end at the Columbia River.
Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail includes numerous trailheads with good signage, 5 primitive hiker/biker campsites (See State Park maps for locations. $12.00 camp site fee is required - collection box at sites), and a generally well-maintained crushed gravel surface, with the exception of the sandy section through the Training Center. A detour is required between Kittitas and the Army Training Center due to a closed trestle over the I-90 highway. More information can be obtained through Washington State Parks at:
Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail (previously Iron Horse State Park)
150 Lake Easton State Park Road
Easton, WA 98025
Ph: (509) 656-2230
Hours: Summer: 6:30 a.m. - dusk,
Winter: 8 a.m. - dusk
The 2 mile-long Snoqualmie tunnel (east portal at Hyak, near Snoqualmie Pass summit) is closed during winter months, generally from November 1 until May. Check with State Parks above status.
NOTE: May 22, 2020. The Snoqualmie Tunnel is now open for the 2020 season.
The eastern Washington section of the Palouse to Cascades Trail is largely undeveloped. Click here for information from State Parks. Some sections are closed, private, or gated, and may require detours. ALL of the PTCT east of the Columbia River requires registration for use from State Parks. (Click here for REGISTRATION information) . See MAPS for eastern WA PTCT restrictions).
The 16 mile section from the Columbia River east to Royal City Junction, follows Lower Crab Creek. This area sustained fire damage in a wildfire June 2019. The trestle over Lower Crab Creek was destroyed in the fire. A new detour is required using Lower Crab Creek Road, which parallels the trail between Beverly and Smyrna. Funding has been requested by State Parks to start the process of replacing this trestle.
The 39 miles from Royal City Junction to the city of Warden still has active rail, requiring a detour on local light-traffic roads. (Click here to see detour).Active rail at Royal City JunctionThe 105 miles from Lind to the Idaho border are owned by Washington State Parks (with the exception of a few short private property gaps totaling approximately 4 miles). This section of trail traverses the rangeland and agricultural expanse of the Columbia Plateau, the Ice Age flood-sculpted channeled scablands, and the rolling wheatfields of the Palouse.There are long distances between services and water in the towns along the way, and the trail surface is currently unmaintained. Washington State Parks is working to develop the trail from the eastern terminus at the Idaho border westward, but continued development depends upon funding.