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The well-maintained Cowiche Canyon Trail crosses nine bridges over Cowiche Creek on a mostly flat pathway flanked by walls of Columbia River Basalt and other rock forms. The trail is managed by the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy, which owns and maintains 2,000 acres, and manages approximately 30 miles of trails, in the Cowiche Creek and Naches River watershed areas of the Yakima Valley region. The Cowiche Canyon area is an ideal recreation site for all types of outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, mountain bikers, runners, cross-country skiers, and wildlife observers.
Lava flowing millions of years ago, and "more recent" geological events (1 million years ago), created the floor and walls of the canyon. In 1913, the North Yakima & Valley Railway built a line to transport fruit around the region. The trail that inhabits this former railway climbs from the canyon floor to the top of the canyon walls, following the lush Cowiche Creek and its flora, offering glorious views and abundant habitats for birds, mammals, and aquatic life. Be sure to go in spring to witness this beauty, which is muted in summer and winter.
Along the main trail, you can branch off to several connecting trails to enjoy steeper terrain and more of the unique beauty of the area. Starting at the eastern trailhead (be sure to grab plenty of water and sunscreen) brings you quickly to bridge #9 (the first bridge of your journey). The Uplands Trail connects to the Cowiche Canyon Trail as you near bridge #8; the connecting trail climbs the south hillside and crosses the Cowiche Canyon Uplands. Here, on the plateau, you’ll find another canyon access point and parking.
Just west of bridge #8 is the Winery Trail; the fairly steep 0.8-mile climb leads to two tasting rooms, picnic tables, and views of Mount Adams. You can also drive to the plateau and to the wineries from two other access points. Be aware that there is a step up to some bridges, and some do not have railings. After the final bridge, you'll reach the western trailhead at Weikel Road.
To reach the eastern Cowiche Canyon trailhead from Interstate 82, take Exit 31, and head west on US 12 for 3.6 miles. Turn left onto Ackley Road, and then make a fairly quick left onto W. Powerhouse Road. At 0.2 mile, turn right onto Cowiche Canyon Road. Follow the road 2.2 miles to its end to reach the trail.
To reach the Weikel trailhead from I-82, take Exit 31. Follow US 12 westbound for 2.1 miles, and take the N. 40th Avenue exit. Head south 1.5 miles to Summitview Avenue, and turn right. Go 7 miles, and turn right onto N. Weikel Road. After 0.25 mile, turn right into the trailhead parking lot. Walk along the road to the kiosk and trailhead.
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