Overpass construction begins on Willapa Hills Trail

A 1-mile section of the Willapa Hills Trail has closed for construction as contractors for Washington State Parks began work on an overpass spanning State Route 6 where the trail intersects with the highway.

Work began Sept. 20 on the $3.3 million project, which “was funded in the Capital budget for the 2019-21 biennium,” said Parks Planner Michael Hankinson.

The closure is between Cabe Road west of Chehalis and just east of the Adna trailhead. The project will last approximately one year.

Currently, a blind turn on State Route 6 at Stearns Road, combined with a trail crossing at the same grade as the road, puts motorists and trail users — pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians — at risk.

During the overpass construction, no detours are available. Park staff caution against using State Route 6 as a detour because the road has no shoulder. Long-distance trail users can start riding or walking at the Adna trailhead 6 miles west of Chehalis.

State Parks staff developed the bridge recommendation after receiving community input at public meetings in 2018 and 2019.

The agency’s Capital Program awarded the bridge construction contract to Tapani, Inc. of Battle Ground. The project was originally slated to begin in May of 2021, but met with COVID-related delays.

A former railroad line, the Willapa Hills State Park Trail is 56 miles long and aligned east/west between Chehalis in Lewis County and South Bend in Pacific County, and was originally acquired by State Parks from the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1993. Approximately 27 miles of the trail are open for nonmotorized recreational use.

Trailheads in Pacific County include Lebam, Menlo, Raymond and South Bend. Access can be found in Lewis County at Chehalis, Adna, Rainbow Falls State Park and Pe Ell.

Surface condition varies between the cities of Chehalis and South Bend. Beginning in Chehalis, the trail is surfaced with asphalt through the town of Adna where it transitions to compacted gravel at mile 5 until reaching mile 27, west of Pe Ell.

In Pacific County, the trail remains unimproved west of mile 27 all the way to the Raymond city limits near mile 52.

Here, the trail transitions into asphalt for five miles between Raymond and South Bend where it terminates at a small trailhead accessed by Highway 101.

Typical trail activities include hiking, biking and equestrian use, which provide countless opportunities for wildlife viewing, sightseeing and fitness. Learn more about the trail at parks.state.wa.us/1023/Willapa-Hills-Trail.