Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail


6 Reviews

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Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail Facts

States: Oregon
Counties: Umatilla
Length: 7.3 miles
Trail end points: Warehouse Beach on Landing Rd. (Hermiston) and McNary Beach on Beach Access Rd.
Trail surfaces: Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6055695

Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail Description

This segment of the historic Lewis and Clark Trail traverses cliffs perched above the Columbia River in the Oregon desert. The fairly flat trail, steep and sandy in sections, gathers the rural treasures of McNary Beach Park, the Columbia River, Hat Rock State Park, and Warehouse Beach Recreation Area. The sun bears down on the sagebrush, and you'll want to make sure to bring adequate water, sunscreen, and a hat. Hiking and horse travel are most common on the trail; mountain bikers will likely dismount through sandy and ungraded sections.

Umatilla is at the southern tip of the Interstate 82 bridge that crosses the vast Columbia River into Washington wine country, also home of the Lower Yakima Valley Pathway. Invisible are miles of the Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company (OWR&N) and the towns flooded by McNary Dam construction in 1953. Sacrificed to rescue the critical trade route of the mighty Columbia from the unrelenting Umatilla rapids, these ghosts now lie under the 64-mile-long Lake Wallula.

This OWR&N division of Union Pacific was rebuilt in a location less vulnerable to the previous years of rockfall and avalanches, which had shoved railcars into the river since the railroad was constructed in the late 1800s.

Starting from the grassy riverfront of McNary Beach Park, a flat trail climbs to a scenic, steep riverbank at 1 mile. Stay high at the fork. The path again flattens on the approach to Hat Rock State Park as stunning views appear of inlets, basalt formations, and cliff-top homes. Boats cruise by, and you can hear the metallic rustle of cheatgrass and bunchgrass. Eagles and hawks soar above.

Desert browns and yellows become bright green as you enter Hat Rock State Park, where willow trees and flowers encircle a pond enjoyed by geese and ducks. A bridge crosses the inlet to open desert trails. Hat Rock towers above the anglers waiting on the banks of the inlet and pond for steelhead and rainbow trout, walleye, and sturgeon.

You'll continue 1.6 miles past the east edge of the park on a relatively level railroad bed to end at Warehouse Beach Recreation Area. Explore all this sunny riverside park has to offer before heading to wine tastings on the Lower Yakima Valley Pathway. Note that only Hat Rock State Park allows pets.

Parking and Trail Access

Find the western point, McNary Beach Park, 3 miles east of Umatilla on US 730. Take I-82 to Exit 1. Turn east onto US 730/Columbia River Highway, and go 2.7 miles. Turn north (left) onto Beach Access Road, and follow it to the end, 1.7 miles. No pets are allowed.

To reach Hat Rock State Park, take US 730 7.9 miles from I-82. Turn north (left) onto Hat Rock State Park Road, and go 1.2 miles. There is no horse parking here.

Warehouse Park, the eastern terminus (with horse trailer lot), can be found 9.1 miles east of the Umatilla exit from I-82. From US 730, bear right onto State Route 37 and then left onto Landing Road. This lot has the best equestrian parking but does not allow pets.

Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail Reviews

Not for biking

I didn’t want to believe the reviews so we went anyway. Beautiful setting and views, but impossible for biking. While we struggled with the sandy surface I did see a mountain biker wiz past below us, but on an unmarked trail for sure. Would have been a fabulous ride.

Great location, terrible surface

Okay for hiking, but terrible for biking. Love the area. I just wish the surface was better maintained. It would be great if it was paved.

Lake Wallula Trail

5-25-12. We started at the McNary beach trailhead, and was to suprised to see no people at the well manicured upkept park at Mcnary Beach. We only hiked a coulple of miles, we could smell the blooming trees along the bank of the lake. Nice walk, we saw two deer along the rock bluffs, several bright yellow and orange colored finch's, swallows gliding on the wind, and a gopher snake sunning himself across the trail. Lots of blooming wild flowers. This trail is dog friendly and our little terrier enjoyed it as well.

Grading bad for bikers

"I went over to this trail on Saturday, July 24, 2004, and found that the trail has been graded. While this may be fine for hikers, it's terrible for bikers. For more than half the trail bikers will be pushing their bikes. The grading removed the hardpack and now it is mostly sand up to four plus inches deep.

While I was severly disappointed at this change in the trail's surface, this is still beautiful area."


Awesome Trail

This trail is simply awesome. The views of the Columbia River as well as the surrounding hills are great. I hiked this in the evening at sunset and what a sight it was! Come see for yourself.

It's Beautiful

I have hiked this trail numerous times and it is absolutely beautiful. It's too bad though that it's not paved; it would make a great bike loop.

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