TRAILBEAR ON THE COLUMBIA: The Sacagawea Heritage Trail
09.11.2010 Tri-Cities, WA
If you are in the Tri-Cities (think: Hanford Reservation, A-bombs, etc.) you have some trails worth riding: The Richland Riverfront Trail and the Sacagawea Heritage Trail.
The Sacagawea is an enjoyable river ride with a lot of views on both sides of the Columbia River in the Tri-Cities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, WA. There are three bridges which give you some loop options – and two of them – The Blue Bridge and the Cable Bridge are well worth a few photos. In fact, they are a delight to the eyes.
The trail runs through a series of parks on both sides of the river. You can loop from the I-182 bridge upstream down to the Cable Bridge. There is an extension off the loop here leading down to Sacagawea State Park. This bit is rather “cross-lots” down by the rail yards with bits of trail, then a diversion to the street, then back on another bit of trail. I chose to avoid it and stick to the loop.
I was surprised. I enjoyed the Pasco side better than the Kennewick side. Pasco is rather the poor sister amid the Tri-Cities, but their levee ride was fun. On the Kennewick side the trail runs alongside Columbia Park Trail (which is a road), then onto the road on a bike lane, then alongside, then on. Hard to concentrate doing that.
Trailbed = 5*, Scenery = 5*, Facilities = 4* It’s a fun loop ride.
@@@ BEGIN AT THE TOP END – COLUMBIA POINT MARINA PARK, GE: N46.26334 W119.24641
Start from the back parking lot at the Columbia Pt. Marina Park, hard under the I-182 bridge embankment. This is a full service trailhead. The restrooms are down at the boat launch. Further over are restaurants, motels, restaurants, shopping, riverfront condos (?), a yacht basin and more. This is not a portapotty on gravel lot in the boonies trailhead.
Go to the river end of the parking lot. The trail heading upstream is the Richland Riverfront Trail. The trail heading under the I-182 Bridge is the Sacagawea Heritage Trail.
Do not expect too much in signage; there is not much of it. When you really, really need it; none. If you have a GPS, download the Traillink file for the ride. Head under the bridge, hard right and follow the trail along the embankment, then along the freeway, away from the Columbia, making a big curve to the Yakima River. The whole area before you is a nature preserve and the delta of the Yakima River. If you want to go the other way, take the trail up to the bridge deck and over to Pasco.
@@@ CHOICES – KENNEWICK OR RICHLAND, GE: N46.25438 W119.25791
You have followed the trail to the Yakima River and now there is a choice: Kennewick or Richland. You want Richland. You want to ride ahead, over the river. Ride alongside WA 240 for 1.25 miles, then turn left and ride along a river channel out to the mouth of the Yakima River.
The trail bears right and you are now on the Columbia River (Lake Wallula). You will pass a boat launch, then the trail leading to Bateman Island, then a marina with restrooms (possible trail head). Now you are riding along Columba Park Trail – the road. You can take the bike lane or duck back into the park on the trail when possible. In 3.4 miles after you leave the marina, you will arrive at the …
TRI CITIES REGIONAL VETERANS MEMORIAL, GE: N46.22257 W119.15076
Now that boring stretch of bike lane is finished and you are entering the heart of Columbia Park. There are a number of things to see and do here and the trail route is obscure. If you like cars, stay on Columbia Park Trail. The scenic way is to ride along the river to the Lampson Pits (hydroplane racing) and continue on until you notice a creek blocking your way. (This is hard to miss.) Turn right and go 250’ along the creek until you reach an obscure blue foot bridge which crosses over to the …
COLUMBIA PARK BOAT LAUNCH, GE: N46.22135 W119.13939
Here is another full service trailhead at the Blue Bridge. The trail is across Columbia Park Trail, up on the embankment. Ride under the bridge. If you want to cross over the river here, look for the trail leading up to the bridge deck. The handsome Blue Bridge is illuminated and you might want to check out the photos of the bridge by day, night or season on Google Earth or at Flickr.
Ride on downstream 1.5 miles on an attractive section of levee, past the Clover Island Marina to …
THE ED HENDLER CABLE BRIDGE, GE: N46.21473 W119.10622
What a grand looking bridge! It has inspired countless photos. Check out a few. But first, go under the bridge to find the bike on-ramp on the far side. The bridge sidewalk is not that wide. If two riders or a rider and a ped are passing, best to dismount and walk the bike. …
SO, WHERE’S THE TRAIL? GE: N46.22237 W119.10200
You were warned that when you really needed a trail sign, none would be there. TrailBear was right. Here you are at a small parking lot at the base of the bridge in Pasco, wondering which way to go.
Turn left onto W. Washington St. and ride down to S. 13th Ave. Turn left onto something of a track. Across the waste land you can see the river levee. Head thataway.
If you do it right, you should cross the RR tracks and arrive at Milepost 4.5 on the levee. Turn left for the trail to Sacagawea State Park. Turn right to the Blue Bridge and beyond. Thus begins the Pasco Levee ride - the best part of the trail. Ahead are several trailhead parks and numerous parking access points. The Blue Bridge is 1.25 miles further on and the first restroom on the Pasco side is just 0.24 miles ahead at…
RIVERVIEW PARK, GE: N46.22414 W119.11159
You could trailhead out of this little park. It has a baseball diamond, a grove of trees with picnic tables and parking. However, the grand parks over in Kennewick and Richland are better choices. Stop in, then back on the trail and head to the Blue Bridge. Enjoy the facilities along the levee. There are waysides at intervals with covered tables or benches. It does get sunny here. Summers are XXX hot.
Pass under the Blue Bridge and keep going up river. On the far side of the bridge is the Moore Mansion.
Quite a striking building. However, you would think that the wife would have liked something in Seattle and closer to shopping, restaurants, etc. Ahead is the lawn section of the levee. Here the levee is a sloping lawn leading up to a line of riverfront homes. At N. Rd. 54 you are back on the rock levee and the lawn is behind you. Nice while it lasted. It is about 3.3 miles up the trail and through Chiawana Park to …
THE BIKE LANE ON COURT ST., GE: N46.25326 W119.22110
Here the trail ends for a bit and you ride the bike lanes up W. Court St. to the I-182 Bridge. On the left you can see the driveways of lovely riverfront homes, many with boat docks, which line the bank to the bridge. The bike lanes are wide enough for comfort. It is 1.2 miles ahead to the …
INTERSTATE 182 BRIDGES, GE: N46.26619 W119.23919
Actually there are two spans. Ride under the bridges and take the trail up on that side to arrive on the Columbia Point Marina side over in Richland. A nice ride over the river, a high speed descent down the embankment and you are back at your car, hopefully none the worse for a 20 mile loop around the river in the Tri Cities.
Want more miles? Back over the bridge and ride down to Sacagawea State Park and back on the Pasco side. That should get you over twenty more miles.
@@@ STAGING THE RIDE
We were in the Tri-Cities for two days while I surveyed the Richland Riverfront Trail and the SHT. We camped at the Corps of Engineers Hood Park Campground (electricity, showers, etc.) It’s a nice place – and we get to use the Golden Geezer card. The COE has a chain of campground on the Columbia and Snake worth checking out. Let me mention Windust further up the Snake where the Columbia Plateau Trail comes out of Devil’s Canyon and there are three trestles within five miles. Closed, of course, but.
From Hood Park it is 7 miles up the river to the Ice Harbor Lock and Dam. You will find the bottom end of the 130 mile Columbia Plateau Trail there at the boat launch parking lot.
Here you can ride 15 miles up the Snake River on a crushed rock surface. Then it turns to ballast for another 100 or so miles across the scablands and your ride turns to an expedition. The TrailBear would have developed the section from Kahlotus down Devil’s Canyon and along the river by Windust. There are tunnels and trestles there – and tunnels and trestles have rider appeal.
Riding both sides now.