Commission chooses brand new name for Iron Horse Trail

‘Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail’ connects east and west sides of state

The long-distance recreation rail trail that runs from North Bend to the Idaho border has a brand new name – Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously voted to rename the Iron Horse State Park Trail, which includes the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. The new name was selected to end confusion resulting from the two names associated with the trail. The Commission expressed an interest in a name unique to Washington and representing both sides of the state.

“I am extremely pleased with the name change,” said Commission Chair Ken Bounds. “Palouse to Cascades is unique to Washington State. There is no evidence that John Wayne was associated with the trail, and there are several other Iron Horse trails throughout the country. The new name connects eastern and western Washington and honors two beautiful regions of our state.”

The trail is a 285-mile linear property that extends from North Bend, east to the town of Tekoa on the Washington-Idaho border. State Parks owns 110 continuous miles of the trail from North Bend to the Columbia River near Vantage and has 105 miles of continuous ownership from Lind to the Idaho border. Since the state attained the corridor in 1981, State Parks has surfaced rail beds and developed trestles and tunnels for non-motorized recreational use, including bicycles and horses. Some eastern Washington trail sections remain in Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ownership, and there are small privately owned sections between Lind and Idaho. Some sections also have yet to be developed.

In 2016, the Commission adopted land classifications and a long-term boundary for portions of the trail east of the Columbia River. At that time, the Commission adopted a resolution reaffirming support for an east-west cross-state trail; directed staff to work with DNR on a transition plan for the DNR-managed trail corridor; and also directed staff to work with Iron Horse State Park Trail stakeholders to recommend a new name. The name was to be based on geographic location, geology, archaeology or history, in keeping with State Parks’ naming policy and to establish a broadly recognizable and marketable identify.

Subsequently, staff did public outreach to various groups and trail users to aid in the naming process. Naming suggestions included Cascalouse State Park Trail; Columbian State Park Trail; Cross-Washington State Park Trail; Iron Horse State Park Trail; Milwaukee Road State Park Trail; Trail of the Olympian State Park Trail; John Wayne Pioneer Trail and Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. Staff recommended the latter option to the Commission.

Bounds said the Commission was impressed with the 500 comments received from trail users throughout the state, including the active involvement of various trail friends groups. He noted that the new name will help promote tourism for small towns and communities along the trail.

“We look forward to the day when the trail, from east to west, is completed and eventually connects to trails in Idaho and beyond,” Bounds said.

State Parks will work with the Department of Transportation to replace about 17 highway signs and create a consistent style for signs along the trail. The agency anticipates signs will be in place in 2019.  Total cost for the trail signs, including those due for routine replacement or maintenance, is $32,000.

– Washington State Parks

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