Two New Willapa Hills Trail Bridges Now Open

This bit of trail news comes to us from our friends at Discover Lewis County, who invite you to visit Lewis County and ride the Willapa Hills Trail. Under development by Washington State Parks, this former rail corridor meanders 56 miles through scenic countryside from Chehalis to South Bend. You can view the original post on their site.

A major milestone in construction on the Willapa Hills Trail will connect more than a dozen miles of trail to outdoor enthusiasts in West Lewis County.

Washington State Parks has officially opened two bridges along the Willapa Hills Trail, which runs along 55 miles of a former railroad grade through Lewis County and Pacific County.

The bridge over the Chehalis River between Doty and Dryad is shown in late summer 2015.

Many places on the corridor are still undergoing construction, but this will be the largest section of the trail to open in Lewis County so far.

The bridges’ completion links together sections of the trail that was previously accessible only in small segments due to two bridges over the Chehalis River having been washed out in the flood of 2007. The longest section of trail to open yet will take cyclists, joggers, walkers and equestrians from Spooner Road in Adna to the town of Pe Ell and just beyond.

The trail west of Adna is compact gravel, so cyclists are best served with wide tires. We recommend at least 700x32c tires or 27×1.25″ tires for road bikes, but a mountain bike or cyclocross bike should work better. The wider the tires, the better the navigation; please also be advised that the trail west of Doty is a bit rougher than the rest but is still passable through to Pe Ell.

This stretch of trail takes people who utilize it along the banks of the Chehalis River and through several stands of trees, creating a beautiful landscape especially in the fall and springtime.

The views of the Chehalis River open up from the bridge near Doty and Dryad.

The trail also passes near Rainbow Falls State Park, allowing users of the trail to disembark for a time and enjoy the park’s picnic shelters and see Rainbow Falls up close.

There’s still one major project ongoing before the trail between Chehalis and Pe Ell is nearly fully connected. A project to re-deck a railroad bridge (known as Bridge #5 because of its mileage on the trail) that carries the trail near Bunker Creek Road west of Adna is in the bid process. Once that project is complete, the trail will be nearly complete between Chehalis and Pe Ell, linking more than 23 miles of trail and opening up West Lewis County to another segment of tourists!

Please note that as of now the trestle at Bunker Creek is not roped off, but it is technically closed according to Washington State Parks as it is unplanked and there are openings between railroad ties. We ask that anyone using the trail respect the fact that it is closed. To access the areas linked by the new bridges on the trail, use points from Spooner Road on west to Pe Ell and vice versa.

The fall colors in November are shown from the Spooner Road bridge over the Chehalis River.

So where can you park?

Right now there are three good trailheads that allow for accessibility: Ceres Hill Road, Meskill Road and the midpoint trailhead at the intersection of West Fourth Avenue and Front Street in Pe Ell (click or tap each location name for a Google map of each). The Pe Ell trailhead has restroom facilities and horse trailer parking.

Mark your calendars now for the Willapa Hills Trail Fat Tire Ride & Festival on June 25-26, 2016. It’s a two-day, family-friendly leisure event that begins and ends in Chehalis and includes an overnight campout in Pe Ell.

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