Colfax Trail


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Colfax Trail Facts

States: Washington
Counties: Whitman
Length: 3 miles
Trail end points: W. River Drive (Colfax) and river northwest of town
Trail surfaces: Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6055749
Trail activities: Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Colfax Trail Description

The Colfax Trail follows an abandoned rail corridor, which snakes along the river northwest of the town of Colfax. Along the way you'll likely see wildlife in the surrounding Palouse hills and the river bottom.

Parking and Trail Access

From town, take SR 26 (Walla Walla Highway) west and bear right on W. River Drive. Continue through the industrial site to the trailhead at the other end.

While dogs are allowed on the trail, they should remain leashed at all times. 

Colfax Trail Reviews

My wife and I walked two thirds of the trail. Finding the trail was a little tricky. When we got to the trailhead there was no real sign identifying it, but it was obvious it was an abandoned rail road spur.

The trail bed is unimproved, but clear of weeds. It is a gradual slope following the Palouse River. We spotted what looked like a great swimming hole and commented about how nice it would have been to take a skinny dip there.

About halfway down the trail you come across another gate which did have a trail maker on it! A short distance down the trail from that gate, though, there is the remnants of an old bridge across a small gully. There is a sign there indicating the bridge is unsafe to cross, but there is a bypass path around that bridge.

The trail enters into a small canyon which is very scenic. There appears to be a road above the canyon, but we did not notice any traffic. Due to the time, though, we had to turn back.

As we reached the trailhead we met some high school boys who said they were going up to the swimming hole to take a dip. They did not appear to have swimming trunks. Later, we had to laugh about what it would have been like if they came across two people old enough to be their grandparents skinny dipping in that hole, or if we had gone just a little further and then came across them as they were skinny dipping.

I believe this old spur would have eventually lead to a covered bridge, but it is apparently on private property and cannot be accessed. I would hope that the conservatory would work with the county to arrange access to the covered bridge. It would make the trail much more attractive.

There are no markers or signs whatsoever. P for parking shown on the map doesn't exist. What I believe is the trail head looks just like all the private property around it, and has a cattle gate across it with livestock on the other side. The other end of trail might be accessed, but the road is closed from Nov to March. We stopped by a local store to ask where the trail was, and no one had heard of it. They said the only rails to trails they knew of was the Pullman-Moscow trail about 15 miles south. We finally found a guy who said he knew it. He told us it was not really a trail and we would have to climb over barbwire fences to use it. On the upside, after driving to both ends of the trail, it really appears to be a beautiful area. We'll try again in March to see if we can find the other end of the trail. The access on W. River Dr is non-existent.

Most of the trail is wide enough for two people to ride horses side by side. There is a small, spring loaded gate at the beginning of the ride that my friend got off to open, I was able to carefully ride through. There was a large gate that we were able to open from horseback. There was also one gate to ride around (go on the uphill side). There was one water crossing with some large rocks and a little mud- keep to the uphill side to avoid a culvert. there is a little train trestle type thing that is abandoned. There is a ride around trail that has a short and somewhat steep decline, then a little flat area, then right up the other short and steep side. Our horses did fine on everything. Lots of wildlife. We saw quite a few joggers/walkers. Everyone was very nice.

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