CWU News

Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail Agreement Bolsters CWU, City of Ellensburg Partnership

Corner of Alder Street and 14th Avenue in Ellensburg.

CWU and the city of Ellensburg have partnered on a new easement for the ongoing Palouse to Cascades Trail extension project.

A 21-year joint initiative to expand the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail through Kittitas County continued this fall when Central Washington University and the City of Ellensburg agreed to a surface and utility easement for the northeast end of campus. 

The CWU Board of Trustees recently approved a 300-foot-long, eight-foot-wide easement on the corner of 14th Avenue and Alder Street, which will reconnect a section of the trail with the city’s other non-motorized trail systems and utility easements. Construction is scheduled to begin in June.

The agreement is the latest in a series of Palouse to Cascades trail pacts between the city and the university since the partnership began in 2000. The board approved similar proposals in 2016, 2018 and 2019, helping extend the Ellensburg portion of the trail to four-and-a-half miles.

“This agreement continues a longstanding, positive relationship between Central and the City of Ellensburg,” said Andreas Bohman, CWU’s vice president of operations. “CWU is always looking to do whatever we can to make our city more accessible to bicycles and pedestrians, and we look forward to working with the city on similar initiatives in the future.” 

City officials sought university approval earlier this year to establish a trail and utility easement, and the Board of Trustees accepted the proposal during its quarterly meeting in October. The current agreement is expected to be the final on-campus easement required for the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail expansion. 

Under the new agreement, the city will be responsible for maintaining the trail’s surface and utility easements for water and electrical power. The university will maintain the landscaping areas within the easement, as it currently does for other parts of the trail.  The easement also will provide an equestrian bypass, new trail signage, and landscaping improvements that will benefit trail users.  

The conditions of the trail and utility easement documents are developed jointly by representatives of the CWU Facilities Management Department and the City of Ellensburg.

“We appreciate CWU’s willingness to work with us on such an important civic project that benefits the connectivity in Ellensburg and across our region,” Ellensburg City Manager Heidi Behrends Cerniwey said. 

The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail follows a former railway roadbed across two-thirds of Washington, from the western slopes of the Cascades to the Idaho border. The trail — known as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail until 2018 — was designated a National Recreation Trail in 2002.

The 100-mile portion from Cedar Falls (near North Bend) to the Columbia River (south of Vantage) has been developed and is managed as a state park. A section of the trail bisects CWU property near Brooklane Village. The next phase of the project will extend the trail across University Way to the Kittitas Valley Event Center, where it will connect with an existing trailhead.

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518.