Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail In Washington

Here is everything you need to know about the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Washington
  • Length: 8.5 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use.
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: National Park Service
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lena-lake

The Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail holds great historical significance as it retraces the footsteps of the famous expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the early 19th century. The trail spans approximately 4,900 miles, stretching from Wood River, Illinois, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. It follows the path taken by the Corps of Discovery from 1804 to 1806, as they explored the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase territory.

Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark embarked on their expedition with the primary objective of finding a practical route to the Pacific Ocean. Departing from St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1804, the Corps of Discovery faced numerous challenges as they navigated the uncharted wilderness. They encountered harsh weather conditions, treacherous terrain, and unfamiliar Native American tribes along their journey.

The Lewis and Clark expedition played a crucial role in expanding the knowledge of the American West. The explorers meticulously documented their findings, recording detailed observations of the geography, flora, fauna, and Native American cultures they encountered. Their expedition paved the way for future settlers, traders, and pioneers, as it provided valuable information about the vast western territories and the potential for westward expansion.

Today, the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail serves as a living testament to the courage, determination, and scientific curiosity of the Corps of Discovery. It allows modern-day travelers to retrace the historic route, offering a glimpse into the challenges faced by Lewis and Clark and their team. The trail showcases significant landmarks, such as the Great Falls of the Missouri River, the Bitterroot Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, providing a tangible connection to the past and a deeper understanding of the exploration that shaped the United States.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Fort Clatsop National Memorial – Astoria, Oregon
2. Cape Disappointment State Park – Ilwaco, Washington
3. Long Beach Peninsula – Long Beach, Washington
4. Fort Columbia State Park – Chinook, Washington
5. Cape Disappointment Lighthouse – Ilwaco, Washington
6. Dismal Nitch – Naselle, Washington
7. Station Camp – Skamokawa, Washington
8. Cathlamet – Cathlamet, Washington
9. Puget Island – Cathlamet, Washington
10. Cottonwood Island – Cathlamet, Washington
11. Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge – Ridgefield, Washington
12. Vancouver Land Bridge – Vancouver, Washington
13. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site – Vancouver, Washington
14. Beacon Rock State Park – Skamania, Washington
15. Bonneville Dam – Cascade Locks, Oregon
16. The Dalles – The Dalles, Oregon
17. Celilo Park – The Dalles, Oregon
18. John Day Dam – Rufus, Oregon
19. Sacajawea State Park – Pasco, Washington
20. Whitman Mission National Historic Site – Walla Walla, Washington

Transportation Available

1. Lewis and Clark Shuttle Service – Convenient shuttle service for exploring the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
2. Discovery Trail Bike Rentals – Rent a bike to explore the scenic Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
3. Coastal Bus Service – Public bus service connecting various locations near the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
4. Taxi Cab Lewis and Clark – Reliable taxi service for quick transportation around the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
5. Ride Share Lewis and Clark – Ride-sharing service offering convenient transportation options along the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
6. Lewis and Clark Trail Tours – Guided tours providing transportation and informative commentary along the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
7. Rental Car Lewis and Clark – Car rental service for independent exploration of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
8. Lewis and Clark Ferry – Ferry service for crossing waterways along the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
9. Lewis and Clark Trolley – Trolley service offering a unique way to travel and explore the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
10. Lewis and Clark Pedicabs – Pedicab service for a fun and eco-friendly transportation option along the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.


The Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail offers the following amenities:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas provided for visitors to park their vehicles while exploring the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The trail offers camping sites for those who wish to spend the night in the area. These sites may have facilities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack amidst the natural surroundings.

5. Interpretive Centers: The trail may have interpretive centers or visitor centers that provide information about the Lewis and Clark expedition, local history, and the natural environment.

6. Hiking Trails: The trail itself offers various hiking trails of different lengths and difficulty levels, allowing visitors to explore the area on foot.

7. Scenic Overlooks: There may be scenic overlooks along the trail, providing panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

8. Wildlife Viewing Areas: The trail may have designated areas where visitors can observe and appreciate the local wildlife.

9. Informational Signage: Throughout the trail, there may be informational signage that provides historical and educational information about the Lewis and Clark expedition and the natural features of the area.

Please note that the specific amenities available at the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail may vary depending on the location and management of the trail. It is recommended to check with the local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Lewis and Clark Trail State Park – A state park offering camping and RV sites near the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.
2. Fort Clatsop National Memorial – A historical site with a visitor center, exhibits, and picnic areas.
3. Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside KOA – A campground with RV sites and cabins located near the trail.
4. Best Western Astoria Bayfront Hotel – A waterfront hotel offering comfortable accommodations and amenities.
5. Fort Stevens State Park – A state park with camping, hiking trails, and beach access.
6. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Astoria – A modern hotel with comfortable rooms and complimentary breakfast.
7. Seaside Lodging – A variety of lodging options including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals in the coastal town of Seaside.
8. Columbia Memorial Hospital – A full-service hospital providing emergency medical services.
9. Astoria Police Department – Local law enforcement agency offering emergency services.
10. Warrenton Fire Department – Fire and emergency medical services in the Warrenton area.

Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail Difficulty Notes

The Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail presents a moderate level of difficulty, suitable for both novice and experienced hikers. Spanning over 3,700 miles, this trail offers a diverse range of terrains and landscapes, including forests, mountains, rivers, and plains. While some sections may be relatively flat and easy to navigate, others can be more challenging, with steep inclines and rugged terrain. Hikers should be prepared for variable weather conditions and be equipped with proper gear, including sturdy footwear and ample water supplies. Overall, the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail provides an exciting and rewarding adventure for those seeking a moderate level of difficulty in their hiking experience.

Features And Attractions

The Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail spans across multiple states and offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable ones along the trail:

1. Cape Disappointment State Park (Washington): This park offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. It is also home to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which provides insights into the expedition.

2. Fort Clatsop National Memorial (Oregon): This site commemorates the winter encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Visitors can explore a replica of the fort and learn about the challenges faced by the expedition.

3. Multnomah Falls (Oregon): Located in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is a breathtaking waterfall and one of the most iconic natural landmarks in the region.

4. Pompeys Pillar National Monument (Montana): This sandstone butte features the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Captain William Clark carved his signature into the rock, which can still be seen today.

5. Great Falls of the Missouri (Montana): The Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered a series of waterfalls on the Missouri River, known as the Great Falls. Today, visitors can explore the area and learn about the expedition’s challenges in navigating this treacherous section.

6. Tower Rock State Park (Missouri): Tower Rock is a limestone formation that stands in the middle of the Mississippi River. It was a significant landmark for Lewis and Clark during their journey.

7. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri): The Gateway Arch is a symbol of the westward expansion of the United States. Visitors can take a tram to the top for panoramic views of the Mississippi River and the surrounding area.

8. Fort Mandan (North Dakota): This reconstructed fort was the winter home of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804-1805. It offers a glimpse into the daily life of the expedition members.

9. Pompey’s Pillar (Montana): Another site featuring the signature of Captain William Clark, Pompey’s Pillar is a sandstone formation that offers scenic views of the Yellowstone River.

10. Seaside (Oregon): This coastal town was the final destination of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches, explore the Lewis and Clark Salt Works, and learn about the expedition’s completion.

These are just a few examples of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Please clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but riders must yield to pedestrians and follow all traffic rules.
4. Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
5. Camping or overnight stays are not allowed on the trail.
6. Open fires and barbecues are prohibited on the trail.
7. Hunting or fishing is not permitted on the trail.
8. Please respect the natural environment and do not disturb plants or wildlife.
9. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please carry out any trash and dispose of it in designated bins.
10. The trail may have seasonal restrictions or closures due to weather conditions or maintenance. Please check for any updates or closures before visiting.

Seasonal Information

The Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail is a fascinating historical route that follows the footsteps of the famous explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Stretching across 4,900 miles from Illinois to Oregon, this trail offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the rich history and natural beauty of the American West. When planning your visit, it’s important to consider the best times of the year to fully enjoy the trail and be aware of any seasonal closures.

One of the best times to visit the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail is during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers and blossoming trees, creating a picturesque landscape. The weather is generally mild, making it ideal for hiking, biking, or simply exploring the various historical sites along the way. Fall, on the other hand, offers stunning foliage as the leaves change color, providing a breathtaking backdrop for your journey. The cooler temperatures also make it a comfortable time to explore the trail without the crowds of the peak summer season.

It’s important to note that some sections of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail may have seasonal closures. These closures are typically due to weather conditions or maintenance work. For example, certain parts of the trail that pass through mountainous regions may be closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall and hazardous conditions. Additionally, some visitor centers or historical sites along the trail may have limited operating hours or be closed during the off-peak seasons. It’s advisable to check with local visitor centers or the National Park Service for up-to-date information on closures and operating hours before planning your trip.

Overall, the best times to visit the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant, and the landscapes are at their most beautiful. By being aware of any seasonal closures and planning accordingly, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience as you trace the footsteps of these legendary explorers.


1. Paved Pathways: The Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail features paved pathways throughout, ensuring smooth and accessible travel for wheelchair users.
2. Accessible Restrooms: ADA-compliant restrooms are available along the trail, providing wheelchair-accessible facilities.
3. Wheelchair Ramps: The trail includes ramps at various points, allowing wheelchair users to easily navigate changes in elevation.
4. Braille Signage: Braille signage is present along the trail, providing visually impaired individuals with information about their surroundings.
5. Handrails: Handrails are installed along certain sections of the trail, offering additional support and stability for individuals with mobility challenges.
6. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
7. Benches and Seating: The trail features accessible benches and seating areas at regular intervals, providing resting spots for individuals with limited mobility.
8. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to have the necessary support during their visit.
9. Audio Guides: Audio guides are available for visitors with visual impairments, providing audio descriptions and information about the trail’s points of interest.
10. Accessible Interpretive Displays: Interpretive displays along the trail are designed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, featuring large print and tactile elements for enhanced understanding.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or disturbing the natural environment.
2. Carry a map and compass: Be prepared with navigation tools in case of unexpected circumstances or getting off track.
3. Dress appropriately: Wear suitable clothing and footwear for the weather conditions and terrain.
4. Bring enough water: Stay hydrated during your journey by carrying an adequate supply of water.
5. Pack snacks and food: Carry enough food to sustain yourself throughout the trail, especially for longer hikes.
6. Check the weather forecast: Be aware of the weather conditions before starting your hike and plan accordingly.
7. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know about your itinerary and expected return time.
8. Be cautious of wildlife: Respect the natural habitat and keep a safe distance from any wildlife encountered.
9. Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects by applying repellent.
10. Carry a first aid kit: Have basic medical supplies on hand to address minor injuries or emergencies.
11. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and watch for potential hazards such as uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, or falling rocks.
12. Respect private property: Stay on public land and respect any private property boundaries along the trail.
13. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and leave the trail as you found it, preserving its natural beauty for others to enjoy.
14. Hike with a buddy: Whenever possible, hike with a companion for safety and assistance if needed.
15. Follow any posted rules or regulations: Observe any specific guidelines or restrictions provided by the trail authorities.
16. Stay updated on trail conditions: Check for any trail closures, maintenance, or safety advisories before embarking on your journey.
17. Carry a whistle or signaling device: Have a means to attract attention in case of an emergency or if you become lost.
18. Be prepared for emergencies: Have a plan in case of injuries, sudden weather changes, or other unforeseen circumstances.
19. Stay on marked paths near cliffs or steep areas: Avoid venturing too close to edges or unstable terrain to prevent accidents.
20. Use sunscreen and wear a hat: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen and wearing appropriate headgear.

Conservation Notes

The Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail, a historic route that retraces the footsteps of the famous explorers, holds a significant conservation status. The trail, spanning across multiple states in the United States, is recognized for its ecological importance and efforts to preserve its natural resources. The conservation status of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail is primarily focused on protecting and maintaining the diverse ecosystems and wildlife habitats found along its path.

Numerous conservation organizations and government agencies have collaborated to ensure the preservation of the trail’s natural resources. These efforts include the establishment of protected areas, such as national parks, wildlife refuges, and conservation easements, along the trail’s route. These protected areas serve as crucial habitats for a wide range of plant and animal species, some of which are rare or endangered.

Conservation initiatives along the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail also aim to minimize human impact on the environment. This involves implementing sustainable practices, such as responsible tourism and recreational activities, to prevent habitat degradation and maintain the ecological balance. Additionally, educational programs and outreach efforts are conducted to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and encourage visitors to respect and appreciate the natural surroundings.

Overall, the conservation status of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail reflects a commitment to preserving the trail’s natural heritage and ensuring its ecological integrity for future generations. Through collaborative efforts and sustainable practices, the trail continues to serve as a valuable resource for both historical and environmental exploration.

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