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America’s Trails

Beverly Bridge Opening Marks Major Jump Toward Statewide Trail Connectivity in Washington

By: Kevin Belle
April 12, 2022

Rails-to-Trails staffers Kevin Belanger and Marianne Wesley Fowler at the opening of the Beverly Bridge along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in Washington | Courtesy Kevin Belanger
Rails-to-Trails staffers Kevin Belanger and Marianne Wesley Fowler at the opening of the Beverly Bridge along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in Washington | Courtesy Kevin Belanger


It’s hard not to be impressed standing on the Beverly Bridge in Washington. To the west: foothills that rise over 1,000 feet above the Columbia River below, teasing the Cascade Range and Mount Rainier. To the east: the beginnings of the channeled scablands that mark swaths of the eastern part of the state. And while you stand on the nearly-mile-long bridge, you overlook the river itself, a mighty body of water that was once a barrier to nonmotorized trail travel across Washington along the 285-mile developing Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.

The first official crossing of the newly revitalized Beverly Bridge at the April 2022 dedication | Photo by Kevin Belle
The first official crossing of the newly revitalized Beverly Bridge at the April 2022 dedication | Photo by Kevin Belle

On April 8, 2022, a ribbon cutting marked a new beginning for the Beverly Bridge—gathering more than 200 people to celebrate its long-anticipated revitalization after years of advocacy from organizations around the state. For the first time since the bridge was closed in 1980 as part of the disused Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, people can cross the Columbia River on this iconic piece of infrastructure. But instead of carrying trains, the Beverly Bridge now carries nonmotorized trail users as part of a $5.5 million retrofit by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, which includes new decking, new railings and seven viewing platforms to enjoy the region’s stunning Tatooine-like landscape.

The revitalized bridge now serves as a critical gateway for communities on both sides of the Columbia River, along the larger trail route that travels between Cedar Falls and the Idaho Border, where trail advocates recently celebrated the opening of the historic 975-foot Tekoa Trestle. “There is no Western Washington. There is no Eastern Washington,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, who served as a keynote for the dedication. “With the Beverly Bridge, there’s one Washington.”

Beverly Bridge along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in Washington State | Photo by Gene Bisbee
Beverly Bridge along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in Washington State | Photo by Gene Bisbee

RELATED: FIVE DAYS AND 100 MILES: A TRIP OF A LIFETIME ACROSS THE CASCADES (A MEMOIRE)

The enthusiasm from the crowd gathered at the bridge dedication was unfettered by the area’s characteristic winds. People gathered from all over the state to be the first to cross the bridge on foot, on bike, and even on horseback. A band from the local high school was on hand to lend its talents to the energy of the occasion—and following a series of inspirational speeches from state and local dignitaries, the band led the group on the first official journey across the bridge.

Governor Jay Inslee at the April 2022 ribbon cutting for the Beverly Bridge | Photo by Kevin Belanger
Governor Jay Inslee at the April 2022 ribbon cutting for the Beverly Bridge | Photo by Kevin Belanger

With the potential to become a destination in and of itself, the bridge will help promote long-distance walking and bicycling trips along the lesser ridden eastern side of the Palouse to Cascades trail route—which will eventually connect into Idaho as part of the 3,700-mile developing Great American Rail-Trail®.

The trail has always had significant economic development potential for communities along its path, and with its new connectivity and status as gateway for the Great American, those opportunities can be realized tenfold.


RELATED: A NEW FRONTIER: PALOUSE TO CASCADES STATE PARK TRAIL

Communities on the easter side of the bridge, like Malden—which was decimated by the Babb Road fire in September 2020—could especially use the power of the trail to bring in tourism as it recovers.

“The opening of the Beverly Bridge marks a long-awaited milestone for trails in Washington and for the entire Great American Rail-Trail,” said Marianne Wesley Fowler, RTC’s senior strategist for policy advocacy and a long-time advocate for the Great American. “Washington and the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail have been forebearers of the rail-trail movement for decades. The promise the bridge holds for the region carries forward their legacy of trail leadership and the potential to bring health and economic opportunity to the dozens of communities the trail serves on the east and west sides of the river.”

The revitalized Beverly Bridge in April 2022 along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail | Photo by Kevin Belle
The revitalized Beverly Bridge in April 2022 along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail | Photo by Kevin Belle

For some local trail advocates, the bridge is another opportunity to provide everyone—visitors and residents—an opportunity to connect and respect a revered and spiritual region of land.   

As Lila Buck, a representative of the Wanapum Tribe stated: “[U]nderstand that this place is still sacred to our people, the lands that you are walking across, the water, are still sacred to our people.”

The reverence for this location was apparent throughout the event and proved inspirational to all in attendance.

Today, we take a moment to pause and celebrate the revitalization of the Beverly Bridge and give thanks for those who shared the vision to save it for future generations.

RELATED: FOUR LONG-DISTANCE RIDES ALONG THE GREAT AMERICAN RAIL-TRAIL

The Great American Rail-Trail will eventually traverse 3,700 miles between Washington, D.C., and Washington State. Learn more about the preferred route, which is 53% complete.

GREAT AMERICAN RAIL-TRAIL

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Kevin Belle

Before joining the RTC team in 2016 as a trail planner, Kevin Belle spent many years in the active-transportation world—first for the Student Conservation Association, building trails in Arkansas (which instilled in Kevin a major appreciation for the impact trails can have on personal and community growth), and then as the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for a suburb in Maryland. His educational background includes earning master’s degrees in both Environmental Studies and Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon, where he wrote his thesis on walking and biking habits in suburban multifamily housing.

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