Creating a World-Class Trekking Network Encircling the Gorge
Learn more about the initiative to create a 200-mile loop trail network in the Gorge.
On the Trail
This easy, 0.75-mile loop is a paved, universal access trail atop a Klickitat River bluff; it offers views down into the river canyon. Elevation gain is 150 feet. Bald eagles in winter are a reliable thrill at this excellent year-round birding site.
Permits & Pets
This site is managed by the U.S. Forest Service; no pass is required. Dogs may be off leash, but for best bird-watching opportunities, leave them at home.
- Bring your binoculars for the meandering walk along the Balfour Klickitat Trail (Trail 4414). Most years, a small flock of canvasback ducks takes refuge here. Lewis's woodpeckers share the pines and oaks with red and white-breasted nuthatches. In summer, watch for turkey vultures riding the thermals and listen for the sweet sound of swallows. Two short, out-and-back trails head off from the north end of the loop.
- The park is in the vicinity of a Native American village Lewis & Clark chronicled on October 29, 1805. Clark wrote of 11 houses just downstream of the Klickitat River and labeled the river as Cataract River due to the number of waterfalls the Native Americans said were present.
- In the 1860s, this land was the home of Lyle town founder James O. Lyle; in the 1890s he sold it as part of a 1,600-acre land purchase by Archibald Balfour, whose sons attempted ranching and then raising orchard crops here.
- Over the decades, the area that is now the day use area devolved into a gravel pit and junkyard. In the 1990s, the Forest Service bought the land. With help from Yakama tribal members and other Klickitat County residents, it has been beautifully rehabilitated.
- Please always stay on the trail and clean your boots before and after you hike. Hikers are a common vector for spreading invasive seeds.
- Restrooms are at the parking area.
Combine this short hike with a walk or bike ride on the Klickitat Trail, just across the Klickitat River from Balfour Klickitat. Afterwards, enjoy a meal in Lyle at a historic railroad hotel; have a beer and a game of pool at a bar and grill, or get the evening's special at a classic diner.
Other Hikes at or Near This Trailhead
Directions & Travel Tips
Balfour-Klickitat Trailhead: In Lyle, at the intersection of Washington 142 and SR 14, go west on SR 14 for 0.2 mile. Turn right on Lyle-White Salmon Road (aka Old Highway 8). In 0.2 mile, turn right into the parking lot for Balfour-Klickitat Day Use Area. Restrooms are at the parking area.