State Parks adds 4 miles to Willapa Hills Trail

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Washington State Parks recently extended the Willapa Hills State Park Trailby 4 miles, with the help of a number of state and federal agencies, corporations and nonprofit organizations.

The addition creates 26 miles of continuous trail between Chehalis and Pacific County. The alignment is built on a historic rail line that runs parallel to State Route 6 from Chehalis to US Highway 101 in South Bend. Future improvements will narrow the 25-mile gap between the eastern and western sections of trail, and numerous bridges have been improved on the undeveloped portion. Plans are in place to complete the contiguous 56-mile trail by 2025.

Parks has worked on the Willapa Hills Trail with multiple stakeholders, including the Lewis County Community Trails (LCCT), the City of Raymond and the Washington State Parks Foundation. The Lewis County nonprofit has also served as a model for Pacific County, which is forming a similar group to promote trail improvements and use.

The $600,000 project to add the 4 miles has been funded by a grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, administered by the Recreation Conservation Office.

Previous funding sources for Willapa Hills Trail projects include: a Federal Highways Grant (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users—SAFETEA-LU); The Boeing Company; LCCT and State Parks capital budget, allocated by the Washington State Legislature.

Willapa Hills is one of five long-distance multi-use recreation trails managed by Washington State Parks. Long-distance trails are available for non-motorized recreation, including hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.The linear “rail-trail” park is a key element of State Parks’ long-term plan for a cross-state trail network.

Washington State Parks acquired the right-of-way to this spur track of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1993. The developed trail includes approximately 5 miles of paved trail at each end, 20 miles of compacted gravel, 30 restored or rebuilt bridges and a side trail to Rainbow Falls State Park at mile 16.