FKT: Megan Lacey, Christof Teuscher - Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail (WA) - 2024-07-04

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
5d 22h 43m 45s

The traverse

Day 1: Idaho Border to Ewan (53 miles)

We started on Jun 28, 2024, at the Idaho border. It was classic Palouse morning: gorgeous, chilly, windy. The sun played beautifully across the green, rolling hills, and before we reached Tekoa we’d startled a moose, several deer, and a pair of barn owls. After obligatory photographs from the Tekoa Trestle, we continued steadily under blue skies and puffy white clouds. The day was warm but not devastatingly; scores of birds and the occasional yellow-bellied marmot kept us company. A highlight of this stretch was the newly installed water fountain and toilet at the Malden trailhead, where we took a break before navigating the paved and gravel road detours to Ewan.

Day 2: Ewan to Ralston (43 miles)

The gravel road detour continued for 12 or so miles after Ewan, but we were treated to a lovely sunrise across the scablands and a very curious (and dare we say cute) American badger. By the time we rejoined the trail near the Revere Wildlife Area, the sun and temperatures were high. The surface was rougher than the previous day, and we trudged more slowly. We found shade only twice: next to the grain elevators at Revere and at the underpass beneath the Columbia Plateau Trail. We rested both places. Clouds began to accumulate as we approached the Cow Creek Crossing, and by the time we’d passed through the gate the sky was completely overcast. A break from the sun and gravel was welcome, as were the crowds of quirky, inquisitive cows. After finishing the crossing rain began, and we made it to Ralston Memorial Park just before the sky opened more widely. Thankful for a spigot and a soft grass campsite, we set up a tarp and called it a night.

Day 3: Ralston to Othello (57 miles)

The surface was a little more forgiving between Ralston and Lind, where we stopped at Jim’s Market for cold pop, ice cream, and other supplies. The next push to Warden was long, exposed, and hot—scant shade left little opportunity for breaks and we moved consistently, heads down, occasionally distracted by trains on the nearby line or distant birds of prey. At Warden we took a much needed break at Subway, filling up with sandwiches, pop, and water. The day’s last leg was a 17-mile road walk to Othello. The shoulder was wide and the grade was rolling. Dozens of farm rigs hurtled by, buffeting us as they passed. We reached Othello just before 11pm—disappointed to find the route kept to the outskirts through an industrial area rather than heading through town and past parks and services.

Day 4: Othello to Beverly (46 miles)

The pavement detour continued for another 12 or so miles, passing through apple orchards, ranches, and a spare feed lot or two. We finally reached gravel again—and relief from traffic—at Lower Crab Creek Road. We encountered three cyclists along this section–the first trail users since we’d began—and an unidentified mustelid (weasel? marten? who’s to say?). There was little distraction on this stretch, and we were thankful to reach the trail again at Road E SW. As we moved west, the wind strengthened, thankfully, keeping the edge off the hot afternoon. Shade breaks began to appear near Smyrna and through the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area, and we pushed against the increasing gales toward the river. The closer we came to Beverly, the stronger the wind became—and by the time we reached the blessed bridge, it was raging so vigorously we couldn’t stand up straight. We strained our way across and, under the rosy sunset, celebrated completing the eastern portion of the trail.

Day 5: Beverly to Ponderosa (53 miles)

We enjoyed the gradual climbing through the Saddle Mountains, cooling effect of the still-howling wind, and the lure of the Kittitas Valley. As we neared the Renslow trestle, we caught glimpses of snowy Rainier and the Stuart Range, a cheerful reminder of how far we’d come. We stopped at Johnny’s Market in Kittitas for burritos and cold drinks, which we gulped down in the convenient, helpful shade next to the train depot. We let those refreshments propel us through Ellensburg and to Shree's Travel Plaza in Thorp, where we again resupplied. It was still 12 miles from Shree's to the Ponderosa Campground. Fortunately, the landscape began to soften—trees, canals, the Yakima River, and the two Thorp tunnels provided marvelous distraction. As the sun fell, we encountered half a dozen owls and reveled in the familiar smell of the forest. We reached the campground after midnight and collapsed.

Day 6: Ponderosa to Cedar Falls (59 miles)

Our night at the Ponderosa was brief; the finish beckoned, but it was just short of 60 miles away. Fortunately, the surface was pleasant and consistent and a breeze again kept the heat at bay. We bumped without delay through S. Cle Elum, waiting to stop until Easton where the spigot had apparently just been turned on. We enjoyed a spirited conversation with some bike packers here, then moved onward toward Hyak. The miles were taking a toll by this point, and blisters and aching feet slowed our pace. Still, we appreciated the gentle incline and the endless supply of green, creeks, and shade. After a final water top-off at Hyak, the Snoqualmie Tunnel was a delightful 2.2 miles of dark, drippy, spooky distraction. From there, it was all downhill to Cedar Falls. For a while we enjoyed the sun illuminating the peaks above the pass, but after the sun set and the temperature dropped we began struggling to stay awake. It took several trail naps to get us there, but just before 3am on Jul 4, 2024, we spotted the final gate in our headlamp beams. It had taken us 5 days, 22 hours, 43 minutes, 45 seconds to hike from the Palouse to the Cascades.

Full report at