TRAILBEAR IN ATOMIC CITY: The Richland Riverfront Trail
The Richland Riverfront Trail comes in two sections. The upper section begins at the Port of Benton’s Submarine Memorial Park near the Handford Reservation. There, atop a bluff overlooking the river is the sail of the USS Trition, an early nuc boat. Not really what you expected to see on the Columbia River. From here the trail runs along the river for 1.35 miles to the bottom of the WSU Tri Cities campus.
A short stretch of 0.5 miles of residential street (Class III) riding takes you to the top of Leslie Groves Park and the start of the lower section. From there you pedal five miles downriver to the south end at Columbia Point Marina Park alongside the US 12 bridge. What you get is an enjoyable ride along the river with interesting parks, a marina, public art and a lot of shade trees.
START AT THE TOP – SUBMARINE MEMORIAL PARK, GE: 46.348375 -119.269649
You really do not expect this – the sail of a submarine sticking out the gravel on the bluff. The park is not finished. One suspects the Great Recession has put construction on hold for some time to come, but it should be a nice upper trailhead. Right above the park is the Hanford 300 Area. From the park the trail sweeps down to the river and along the bank. Just below is a handsome overlook shelter. Ride down stream and uphill for 1.35 miles to the other end of this segment at the WSU campus.
You ride down Sprout Rd. for a half mile to …
THE TOP OF LESLIE GROVES PARK, GE: N46.32133 W119.26066
This is the wild area at Leslie Groves Park. No clipped lawns and shade trees here. Street end parking and a trash can. Head down the trail to…
GLIDER WITH COVER, 0.27 M, N46.31763 W119.26061
Here is an Eagle Scout Project that we can ride on – a glider swing with overhead cover. TB gave it a try. It works just fine after 15 years on the job. There are a number of glider swings along the trail, which is a First for the TrailBear. Yet to find another trail with gliders. Most are memorial gliders. Some are not.
TB wonders if they installed all the benches and such at the start, then let folks buy the naming rights. The non-Scout gliders and benches along this trail are quality metal units and there are a lot of them. Onward! Next stop is a trailhead if you want it to be …
SNYDER STREET BOAT LAUNCH, N46.31460 W119.26129
Here, at the Snyder St. boat launch (restrooms, water, parking, etc.) we encounter a reminder that the Hanford Reservation is just up the road a few miles and they do have plumes of contaminated water next to the Columbia River – which is drinking water for a lot of people. Here is an environmental surveillance station that checks for radiation, river water temperature and assorted other things. Just in case. There are over 40 of these stations around the reservation. Just checking. Synder Street is the upper end of three street end facilities. Next is Saint Street, then Park Street.
The trail splits at the boat launch. There is a pedestrian path running along the shore, with shade trees, benches, picnic areas and other facilities. There is a bike trail on the inland side of the park with far less shade and facilities. Separate, but not equal. TrailBear heads up the hot and high side past the Saint St. parking to …
PARK STREET TRAILHEAD, GE: 46.30777 -119. 26335
This is a pleasant and not overcrowded bit of park with shade trees, restrooms and water, covered picnic shelter, parking , tot lot, and shaded benches and tables with views down by the river. This will be the last oasis for about two miles as the trail below here takes to the levee with homes on the inboard side. There is enough land on the levee that they can split the trail in to two paths here – the high and hot for bikes and the one along the river for the peds. The next stop is the …
AMON PARK BOAT LAUNCH, GE: 46.280673 -119.271611
The boat launch at the top of Amon Park Rd. N. has parking, restrooms, water, etc. More are down at Lee St. Howard Amon Park gets a lot of use, but most of the folks seem to be parking on-street on Amon Park Rd. or Lee St. Lot of shade trees here and a nice new dock at the end of Lee St. for the tour boats. The trail (ped & bike together) runs right along the water. Once at the Lee Docks, take a small diversion inland for about 100 yards to see the …
CARVED TREE, GE: 46.27449 -119.27084
This is different. A dead tree seems be have been repurposed into a collection of interesting carvings on the Indians meet the trappers and traders theme. Nice eagle carved in the end of one branch. Back on the trail. You will leave Amon Park and enter the commercial section. Here there be riverfront condos and such, restaurants, shops, hotels and the …
RICHLAND YACHT CLUB, GE: 46.26606 -119.25774
Yachts in the boat basin to your left and yacht club housing (condo/apartment/whatever?) to the right. Wonder if they own that housing development? It has their name. They lease the moorage from the city.
Just around the corner and the Courtyard hotel is the …
COLUMBIA POINT MARINA, GE: 46.264137 -119.249948
Here is a small boat basin with slips and launch ramps. When the TrailBear came through, they were having a bass tournament. This does not appear to be a cheap sport. None of that “cheese whizz on a hook” stuff. The boats, all purpose built for bass fishing, looked expensive. Add the trailer, the truck, the motors (2), equipment and so on and it adds up. Riding a bike is cheaper. Much cheaper.
It was weigh-in time at the docks. Boats were landing. Folks were heading up the dock with their fish carry bags full (or not so full) of bass. First stop was the oxygen tank (“American Bass Live Release System”) with four hose lines. Put the bag of fish in the tank, insert O2 line and give the fish the Breath of Life.
After the sack of fish was weighed in the tent, folks were heading back down to their boats to return the fish to their holding tanks. Pedal across the launch ramp. The trail is on the water side of the restroom there. It follows the shore to the US 12 bridge at the bottom of the marina to …
TRAIL END SOUTH, GE: 46.263609 -119.246012
The RRT ends at the highway bridge. There is a large strip of car (vs. trailer) parking here so it is a good place to stage the ride. The trail itself does not end here. It gets a new name. If you follow it under the bridge, you are now on the Sacagawea Heritage Trail.
RIDE ON – THE SACAGEWA HERITAGE TRAIL
This is worth the ride. It loops on both sides of the river for about 23 miles. You can go over the bridge and do the Pasco side or ride on to the bottom of the bridge ramp here and continue on to Columbia Park, the Blue Bridge and further on the Cable Bridge. Nice to have some loop options. Be sure to ride the Cable Bridge.
There is very little signage on the route and none in the critical spots, so a good map is helpful. For that, insist on genuine TrailLink maps and GPS downloads. On these routes you are getting genuine TrailBear maps.
Picking up a tan in Atomic City