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Posted on: April 25, 2019

State Parks, trail partners join Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to commemorate cross-country trail

Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail celebrated as part of Great American Rail-Trail

OLYMPIA – April 25, 2019 – Washington State Parks, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and citizen trail organizations invite the public to join in a national celebration of the Great American Rail-Trail— a nearly 4,000-mile, multi-use trail that stretches from Washington, D.C. to Washington state and includes the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.

On Wednesday, May 8, RTC will unveil the preferred route for the "Great American." The event is part of a series of cascading events that will roll out the trail's cross-country routing throughout the day. 

The event, which was jointly organized by RTC, State Parks, Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition and Cascade Rail Foundation, begins at 10:30 a.m. (doors open at 10 a.m.) on May 8, in the South Cle Elum Rail Yard National Historic District, 801 Milwaukee Ave, South Cle Elum (Driving directions).  

The celebration recognizes the Palouse to Cascades Trail and Washington state as the westernmost state on the Great American Rail-Trail. The event also recognizes contributions and support from trail advocacy organizations and individuals. In addition to the Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition and Cascade Rail Foundation, the work of the John Wayne Pioneer Wagons and Riders, Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Washington Bikes, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Washington Trails Association, chambers of commerce, adjacent landowners and others aided trail development in Washington.

During the ceremony, John P. Rathbone, vice chair of the board at RTC, will make a tribute to those who built the railroads. Washington leaders and trail advocates will discuss the trail’s local history. A catered celebratory cookout and guided tour of the historic rail yard will follow the presentation.The South Cle Elum event is one of several taking place May 8 along the Great American Trail route—and one of four to be featured in RTC’s hour-long Facebook Live presentation to launch the Great American Rail-Trail nationally. Other celebrations to be included in the broadcast are the Capital Crescent Trail (Washington, DC); Ohio to Erie Trail (Columbus, OH); and Headwaters Trail System (Three Forks, MT)

About Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail

The 4,956-acre, 212-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is a linear trail that begins at the Washington-Idaho border and stretches to Cedar Falls east of Seattle. It runs through eastern Washington farmland, to central Washington shrub steppe, across the Columbia River and through the Cascades mountains. The trail sits on the converted rail bed of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad, which operated from 1909 to 1980. The Palouse to Cascades reflects State Parks' long-term commitment to developing cross-state recreation trails.

About the Great American Rail-Trail

The Great American Rail-Trail is a signature project of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the nation’s largest trails organization, and the most ambitious in its portfolio of TrailNation™ projects—the organization’s initiative to encourage the rapid replication of regional trail networks across the country. The trail was first envisioned in the late 1980s by RTC co-founder David Burwell, and for decades has been an underpinning of the organization’s strategy to create a nationwide network of public trails.

The Great American, which is already more than 50 percent complete, is based on assessment and analysis using RTC’s database of more than 34,000 miles of existing trails and in-depth collaboration with local trail partners and state agencies from across the country. For details about the Great American Rail-Trail, follow #GRTAmerican on social media and visit

News media contacts:

Andrea Holliday, Communications Director, Rails to Trails Conservancy, 202.974.5130
Meryl Lipman, Communications Consultant, Washington State Parks, 360.902.8557 


About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.


News release number: 19-020

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