Author Topic: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg  (Read 1705 times)

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« on: October 09, 2021, 12:27:27 pm »
Has anyone actually ridden this with a loaded touring bike? I want to finish my TransAM tour along this route and will be hitting it at the end with a loaded Disc Trucker running 1.75 tires.

From the latest pictures it looks like a loose gravel surface, but the question is how deep does the loose go? It looks like there are hard packed travel lanes in most places.

I know East of Ellensburg, all the way to the Idaho border, is pretty unrideable on a touring bike but I had read heading West from Ellensburg was quite doable.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline tjdale

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2022, 11:39:52 am »
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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2022, 12:50:18 pm »
You may want to join the group Friends of the Palouse to Cascades on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/355582289627913/?multi_permalinks=385763156609826&notif_id=1635994139026536&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif- full of incredible information and knowledgeable members.

Also check out the Bennett's ride across Washington https://bennettsacrosswa.wordpress.com/

I am also planning on using the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes from Plummer, ID over to Enaville, ID then take the Coeur d"Alenes River Road (NF-9) to Montana Secondary Highway 471 to Thompson Falls, MT (these roads are closed in the winter). From there south on 200 through Paradise, MT and then RT 93 into Missoula. That route has been recommended by a few people as better option than riding on I90.

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is not that scenic east of Enaville, since it parallels the interstate. The frontage roads that Google Maps say exist next to I90 from St. Regis to Missoula are not contiguous, often ending abruptly at fenced and posted land. Also, some bridges on I90 heading in that direction have almost no shoulder and traffic moves at 80 mph on I90. There are a few narrow spots on the route I mentioned but folks who have done both tell me that it is a way better and more scenic option.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline jamawani

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2022, 10:06:48 pm »
I've ridden the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes a couple of times.
And chosen to go over Thompson Pass - way better, as HBC sez.
Limited camping - but you can rough camp up on the overlook on the pass.
Sweet ped bridge over the Thompson River into Thompson Falls.

Offline Itinerant Harper

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2022, 08:30:32 pm »
I've ridden the trail Rattlesnake Lake to Ellensburg with a fully loaded touring bicycle more than once. It's no problem.  Hardpacked gravel pretty much the whole way. Even when they regravel it, it is usually packed and shallow above hardpacked dirt. The trestles have larger ballast on them and can be more of a trial but I've always found there to be ruts on it. Anyway plenty of info on this out there and I can share what I know. 

Plenty of pictures of the trail from my last tour on it here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/35237104136@N01/albums/72157679233401535

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2022, 10:57:36 am »
You may want to join the group Friends of the Palouse to Cascades on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/355582289627913/?multi_permalinks=385763156609826&notif_id=1635994139026536&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif- full of incredible information and knowledgeable members.

Also check out the Bennett's ride across Washington https://bennettsacrosswa.wordpress.com/

I am also planning on using the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes from Plummer, ID over to Enaville, ID then take the Coeur d"Alenes River Road (NF-9) to Montana Secondary Highway 471 to Thompson Falls, MT (these roads are closed in the winter). From there south on 200 through Paradise, MT and then RT 93 into Missoula. That route has been recommended by a few people as better option than riding on I90.

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is not that scenic east of Enaville, since it parallels the interstate. The frontage roads that Google Maps say exist next to I90 from St. Regis to Missoula are not contiguous, often ending abruptly at fenced and posted land. Also, some bridges on I90 heading in that direction have almost no shoulder and traffic moves at 80 mph on I90. There are a few narrow spots on the route I mentioned but folks who have done both tell me that it is a way better and more scenic option.

There is a nice state park (Thompson Falls State Park) on Blue Slide Rd. just west of the center of Thompson Falls.  Water, but no showers or flush toilets. It's not one of the 5 MT state parks that have those special biker sites, but when I stayed there in 2017 the woman working the office told me they have unofficial sites.  She put me in the day use area that overlooks the river and only charged me $12, which was the same price for non-residents at the special cyclists spots.  She also delivered wood to my site.

I've ridden between Missoula and St. Regis twice so have researched the routing for myself and others contemplating riding it eastbound.  From what I can se on Google Maps satellite view all the I-90 bridges that you have to ride heading east are relatively new and have wide shoulders.  IIRC, the eastbound bridges were replaced several years ago. The bridge westbound at Takrio still has basically no shoulder, but it's short. You can see that the eastbound bridge (the lower lanes) there has a wide shoulder:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cyr+Bridge/@47.0176429,-114.6737026,197m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x535e0ca3e6d6cae5:0xa4db5a6ea66a0ff5!8m2!3d47.005722!4d-114.5796966

The last time I did that stretch (2019) the westbound lanes of I-90 in that area were closed in preparation for upcoming work.  Had several miles of Interstate all to myself.

The frontage roads I have taken between Missoula and St. Regis are quite nice, and the I-90 mileage is pretty short and has was not bad.  (Both times I rode on Sunday mornings.)  I can draw you a RWGPS map if you would like it as a Plan B.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2022, 12:35:02 pm »
I should have mentioned we are coming East to West although I wrote the route in a West to East context to make it easier for the original poster. There is also a private campground (Cedar Camp) and lodge (Upriver Lodge) near Prichard, ID on NF-9.

Good to hear most of the bridges have been replaced. We still have one no shoulder bridge going in our direction. The alternate route I picked looked far more scenic in addition to avoiding the interstate. Until I ride both I guess it is hard to compare apples :).
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2022, 10:39:37 am »
Here is how I went in 2019:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38340139

Camped at Sloway, which is a couple of miles before the final Interstate section.  If you are not staying at Sloway you can avoid that last section by staying on Southside Rd. and then Cold Creek.  You cannot take Red Hill Rd. as a section of it is private.  It's a section of former Milwaukee Road right-of-way that has been converted to private use.

On the other end, at some point west of Wye, on Frenchtown Frontage Road, there is a relatively new recreation trail that parallels the road. When I was there is 2019 it looked like the paving had recently been completed.  In fact, they were still doing drainage work in places.  The trail runs all the way to the first I-90 section you have to get on.

If you take Thompson Pass from T-Falls, bring lots of water. It's a long slog in that direction, and I don't remember seeing any obvious resources while heading own in the other direction.  Pretty warm and humid in 2017.  2019 was chilly and rainy. Both times around the end of the 3rd week of June.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2022, 12:13:21 pm »
If you take Thompson Pass from T-Falls, bring lots of water. It's a long slog in that direction, and I don't remember seeing any obvious resources while heading own in the other direction.  Pretty warm and humid in 2017.  2019 was chilly and rainy. Both times around the end of the 3rd week of June.

Thanks, I am set up to carry 5 bottles and have a Platypus. We plan to camp in Pritchard, ID. We will most likely be coming out of Plains, MT so it will be a 68 mile day for us with a big climb of T-Pass. - we will plan to top off in T-Falls.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline mathieu

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2022, 01:20:29 pm »
Am I the only one who gets confused by the title? Most of the comments regard the PCT East of Ellensburg.
I am interested in the full PCT because I am planning the Great American Rail-Trail from east to west for this year: https://www.railstotrails.org/greatamericanrailtrail/route/
From what I saw of the PCT, east of Ellensburg the surface and the scenery is not inviting a full day cycling. So maybe I'll pick and choose the best sections and mix them with other dirt or paved roads.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2022, 02:00:36 pm »
Am I the only one who gets confused by the title? Most of the comments regard the PCT East of Ellensburg.
I am interested in the full PCT because I am planning the Great American Rail-Trail from east to west for this year: https://www.railstotrails.org/greatamericanrailtrail/route/
From what I saw of the PCT, east of Ellensburg the surface and the scenery is not inviting a full day cycling. So maybe I'll pick and choose the best sections and mix them with other dirt or paved roads.

I think we expanded a bit in scope because I, like you evidently, wanted tp ride the Great American Rail Trial only to find out it is still an idea in the making and not actually a ridable trail on a touring bike for the vast majority of the planned route. It was because of that planned route that I pieced together the TransAm Eastern Express linking to the traditional TransAM in Colorado then departing that route to head north and then follow along the generally proposed Great American Rail Trail west. From the Missoula area we are using the sections that can be comfortably ridden on loaded touring bikes, and using road detours when necessary. I would be glad to share the route we are planning if you are interested.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline mathieu

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2022, 03:25:57 pm »
... I would be glad to share the route we are planning if you are interested.
No problem in sharing the route. Since the GART is almost complete in the east of the US, say from Washington-DC to halfway Nebraska, I find it a bit odd that you only embark on it far to the west, probably from Missoula.

I am planning for stages of roughly 60 miles with overnight stays in motels because I don't want to carry full camping gear. I know I can manage an incidental 100 mi stage, if necessary. I might carry a light tent and a sleeping bag for emergencies.
Because of the vast sparsely populated segments of the PCT in eastern Washington, my route will probably go : Plummer - Cheney - Ritzville - Othello - Kittitas/Ellensburg, rather than what I initially mapped on https://ridewithgps.com/routes/34896576 .

If you look around on Ride-with-GPS, you will find my other planned bits of the GART. 

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2022, 08:15:24 am »
... I would be glad to share the route we are planning if you are interested.
No problem in sharing the route. Since the GART is almost complete in the east of the US, say from Washington-DC to halfway Nebraska, I find it a bit odd that you only embark on it far to the west, probably from Missoula.
There is an old saying among hikers on the AT - Hike you Own Hike, and I think the same rings true for bike touring - ride your own route. That being said here is why I have decided on the route that we are doing.
 According to their website today https://www.railstotrails.org/greatamericanrailtrail/route/ the GART route is about 52% complete.
The preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail connects 145+ existing rail-trails, greenways and other multiuse paths spanning more than 3,700 miles. These trails are hosting the Great American through their communities, making possible this grand vision of a nation connected by trails. And with more than 52% of the route already on the ground, now is the time to experience the Great American Rail-Trail! Explore the Great American Rail-Trail map above to learn more about the route and to find trails you can visit today.

If you looked at the map of the TransAM Eastern Express https://www.easternexpressroute.com/you will see that it utilizes the C&O, GAP, KATY Trail, and a few others along the way. As I researched each trial on the GART individually, I also found that some were more for mountain biking, and even though they exist today, they are not suitable for travel on a loaded touring bike - the eastern P2C is a perfect example. Also the Eastern Express route does not zig-zag north and south for the sole purpose of staying on existing trails. Like I said, my original intent was to follow their trail but from midway in Iowa to the Columbia River the trail is still a concept for the most part. The Ohio sections that I will miss will most likely be a week long trip of its own with my wife later on. I really have no desire to get as far North as Chicago or ride through Pittsburgh again. That was one of the things I was not fond of with the GART - many of their routes take you close to urban sprawl. I have lived on the East Coast, the West Coast, and even on the Gulf Coast, and have seen enough of suburbia. I want to ride the open areas, the deep forests, avoid major metros and spend time in the heart land where you can still catch a glimpse of the America I grew up in.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline mathieu

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2022, 06:27:41 pm »
There is an old saying among hikers on the AT - Hike you Own Hike, and I think the same rings true for bike touring - ride your own route.
You are right. Each his own perspective. I like to explore the purpose of these old railroads, who or what they served, as well as the scenery. Americans don't seem to fancy railroads as much as Europeans do. Possibly they look down on this way of transport as a form of socialism. I don't mind to visit a few big cities, like Pittsburgh, Chicago, Omaha and Seattle, in-between weeks of backcountry travel.

I don't mind that only 52% of the projected GART is complete. It is fun to map a route through the remaining gaps on quiet roads. In the sparsely populated regions of western Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana , you are anyhow glad to meander from town to town and find services. It would be extremely boring to cross these vast areas on straight tracks.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2022, 06:38:35 pm by mathieu »

Offline mathieu

Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2022, 12:15:11 pm »
A monumental event coming up : https://www.parks.wa.gov/1238/Beverly-Bridge-Dedication
Maybe some ACA member can be present and post some shots.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2022, 12:19:42 pm by mathieu »