Trail of the week: Castle Rock’s Riverfront Trail East

Castle Rock’s Riverfront Trail East follows the Cowlitz River.
Castle Rock’s Riverfront Trail East follows the Cowlitz River. chill@thenewstribune.com

Riverfront Trail East

HIKE DESCRIPTION: Castle Rock’s Riverfront Trail East offers a peaceful journey along the Cowlitz River, but it’s the side trips that take this trail to another level.

As its name suggests, this wide, paved trail runs along the east side of the Cowlitz River. It’s a gentle trip accessible to bikes, strollers and foot traffic. In less than 1.8 miles each way, the trail has plenty to offer.

Visitors can access the river. The trail begs visitors to bring a bike. The trail can be linked to bike-friendly back roads in the area, but it’s mountain and BMX bikers who’re likely to have the most fun. A bike park packed with features, including wood bridges, and an undulating dirt path sits next to the trail. A small skate park is located trailside.

A piece of history sits next to the trail and offers walkers and hikers a chance to really ramp up their heart rate. A tree-covered hill has a short, steep trail to a small picnic area at the top. The trail can be muddy and slippery when wet. The hill is the feature for which the town is named. According to interpretive signs in the area, “The Rock” looked rockier when the city was founded in 1852.

The trail’s southern terminus is at Lions Pride Park. Turn around here and retrace your steps along the trail, or use sidewalks to shortcut through town.

DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 5 in Cowlitz County, take Exit 49 and turn southwest on Huntington Avenue. A trailhead is on the right at the edge of town. Parking is available south of town at Lions Pride Park.

DIFFICULTY RATING: 1 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).


ELEVATION GAIN: Flat, but a side trip to the top of Castle Rock climbs about 130 feet.


MAP: A map of the east and west trail is included in a trail map published by Cowlitz County. See a copy at cowlitzonthemove.org.

PASS: None.

ALSO: The paved trail is handicap-accessible and has lights. The sections of trail on the west side of the river have a crushed gravel surface. The trail earned Castle Rock the 2004 Municipal Achievement Gold Medal from the Association of Washington Cities. The trail offers many access points to the river, and benches and tables for resting up and enjoying the scenery. Pets on leashes are permitted. Several geocaches are hidden along the trail.

INFO: ci.castle-rock.wa.us/parks.htm