Need a weekend trip away from home?
Head to foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range with this 2-day itinerary, full of outdoor exercise and history!
Here you can take a step back in time and learn all about the cultures and land that make up Kittitas County. Explore Cle Elum and Roslyn by walking or biking the Coal Mines Trail, visiting multiple museums, or schedule a walking tour from a longtime local. There’s something for everyone in these quaint Cascade Mountain towns.
Kittitas Valley original inhabitants are the Pshwánapum, also referred to as the K’tɨ́taas band (Kittitas). A sub-band of the Yakama tribes and bands. Before the Pioneers they moved seasonally between the mountains and low river-lands. To the east of Ellensburg, the K’tɨ́taas traded with other bands and tribes due to the location between Columbia River and Cascade Mountain range. This land is sacred, please be respectful of Mother Earth and others around you while visiting. Further reading: The Yakama Treaty of 1855 + The Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation + Yamaka Nation has sacred ties to the land…
QUICK FACTS ABOUT CLE ELUM
- Founded: 1902, coal discovered: 1894.
- Native Name: “swift water” – “tle-el-lum” (K’tɨ́taas).
- Originally spelled Clealum until 1908.
- First town west of Denver, Colorado to have organized skiing in 1921.
- Aaron Reeves, Cle Elum resident, drove the 1st car ever over Snoqualmie Pass.
- Website: City of Cle Elum
National Historic Landmark = building, district, site, structure, object with historical importance.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT ELLENSBURG
- Founded: 1883.
- Originally spelled Ellensburgh until 1894.
- Receives about 9 inches of rain a year.
- Home to Ellensburg Rodeo, a stop on the PRCA & largest rodeo in Washington.
- Bike friendly community: silver medal from the League of American Bicyclist.
- Website: City of Ellensburg
QUICK FACTS ABOUT ROSLYN
- Founded: 1886.
- Worst Washington coal mine accident was in 1982. 45 miners died.
- Origin of Name: Mr. Bullitt’s wife’s love for a town in Delaware.
- Northern Exposure was filmed in town.
- Knights of Labor Strike of 1888 happened here.
- Website: City of Roslyn
- Roslyn Museum – site
*not all sites listed
- Cle Elum Bakery
- Douglas A. Munro Memorial
- Glondo’s Sausage Company
- Owens Meat
- South Cle Elum Rail Yard National Historic District
- Swauk-Teanaway Grange
- Caldwell Building – Kittitas County Museum
- Castle Building
- Dickson Building
- Elks Building
- Farmer’s Bank
- Fogarty Building
- Frontier Village – by appointment & during fair
- I.O.O.F Building
- Kleinburg Building
- Shoudy Cadwell Block
- Coal Miner’s Memorial
- Immaculate Conception Church
- Old City Hall & Library
- Roslyn Cemetery
- The Brick Tavern
COAL MINE TRAIL DETAILS
- Mileage: Cle Elum to Roslyn = a little over 2 miles one-way, Cle Elum to Ronald = 4.7 miles one-way
- Trail Ground: Flat, Wide, Gravel
- Number of sites: 16+
- Trail Activities: Biking/Mtn. Biking, Walking, Horseback riding
- Dog Friendly: Yes
This flat trail follows the northern Pacific Railroad branch line that was developed in 1886 to transport coal from the Roslyn-Cle Elum coal field. In 1887, the branch extended to the town now known as Ronald. The trail was purchased in 1994 and made into a public recreational trail by the City of Cle Elum, City of Roslyn, Kittitas County. It is dedicated to the pioneer settlers who once lived here.
Along this trail you will see over 16 points of interest, all centered around the towns’ coal mining history. Stop by a visitor center to pick up a Coal Mines Trail Tour Guide: Fourth Edition booklet. History facts about Cle Elum, original photos, and descriptions of each point are provided in this book. Trekking along this trail will give you an idea of what life was like during the coal mining days. WTA trail description
Extra: if you brought a mountain bike, ride the 11-mile Ratpac Trail. Accessed from the Coal Mines Trail. Includes a 4-mile downhill, gravity drops + bowl, ladders, jumps and more!
Looking to immerse yourself in Cle Elum, Ellensburg, and Roslyn’s history? With some exercise? Take a look at the 2-day itinerary below.
Day 1: A Day In Coal Mine Country
Begin your day in Cle Elum by grabbing a treat from the historical, 3-generational family owned Cle Elum Bakery. Choose from a wide variety of freshly baked pastries and doughnuts that are priced as low as $1.00. If you want a taste of the past, order the French bread. The original brick oven from 1906 still bakes it today.
Pick up a booklet from the visitor center after you fuel up, and head to the Coal Mines Trail trailhead for a 2-mile walk or bike ride to Roslyn. A bench is provided about every ¼ mile along this path. Make sure you are wearing comfy attire, have water, and a backpack in case you pick up any goodies in Roslyn.
When you’ve reached Roslyn, check out the Coal Miner’s Memorial across the street from City Hall. This memorial is dedicated to the miners who have lost their lives coal mining. Across the street is The Brick Tavern, where you can grab a drink in Washington’s oldest continuously running tavern. Or refuel at the Basecamp Books & Bites and stroll through their bookshop while waiting for the food. The Roslyn Yard with picnic tables and fire pit, along with extra tables on their patio below are out the backdoors. There is even inside seating, downstairs for those seeking shade.
Once you finish lunch walk up to the historic Roslyn cemetery, where you can see the 24 ethnic communities that made up the coal mining community. Before heading back to Cle Elum on the Coal Mines Trail, stop by the Roslyn Museum to learn more about the coal mining history here. Keep your eyes peeled for the colorful murals that are on several of the building throughout town! You’ll even see a camel.
- If you have extra time and are planning ahead, stay at the Roslyn Hotel or Suncadia Resort – Schedule a tour with Roslyn Walking Tours to hear stories and the history of this place from a local the next day! www.roslynwalkingtours.com / https://www.hotelroslyn.com
After your hike back, reward yourself with a cold one from Mike’s tavern. You can’t miss the Big Foot mural on the side of the building. Or stop by one of the other historic food places that Cle Elum has to offer for a to-go snack. Owens Meats has been family owned and operated since the 1880s—serving coal miners and families. While Glondo’s Sausage Company was started by the grandchildren of Croatian and Italian immigrant families back in 1986. If you aren’t hungry there are several shops to check out along the Main Street.
- Second Option: start on the Coal Mine Trail in Roslyn, walk or bike to Cle Elum, then back to Roslyn.
Don’t forget to visit oldest telephone museum on this side of the Mississippi River before heading out. This museum was the last operator-assisted, switchboard phone company, closing in 1966. Over on Third Street you’ll find a 1914 mansion, which was once home to Cle Elum’s 1st banker and his family. After you’ve gotten a feel for how life was back in the coal mining days, take the scenic State Highway 10 to Ellensburg, Washington – you won’t regret it.
Check into Hotel Windrow for some r&r once you arrive. Before you turn in for the evening, grab some dinner from the hotel’s restaurant, Basalt. If you aren’t too hungry, Top of the Burg offers small bites, drinks and views of downtown Ellensburg. This hotel is located in the historic Elks Lodge Building. If you still have energy and time, take a walk around downtown and check out the other historical buildings.
Day 2: Art & Cowboys In The Burg
In the morning, grab some coffee from Udderly Espresso Downtown across the street. If you didn’t check out Ellensburg’s historical buildings last night, now is a good time with coffee or tea in your hand. While you explore downtown, you’ll notice that this community is not short on artists. Admire the sculptures and murals that can found around town (list of sites), including the Ellensburg Bull. Then head over to Central Washington University campus for a relaxing stroll through the Donald L. Garrity Japanese Garden. Even the CWU campus is historic, opening in 1891 as a normal school. Looking for a bit more exercise? The college campus is a beautiful spot to get those extra steps in.
After your AM cardio, pop into to the 1 of the 3 museums located in Ellensburg: Kittitas County Historical Museum for pioneer life history, Clymer Museum of Art for local rodeo history or Museum of Culture & Environment showcasing the lives and cultures of local people. On a warm day stop a local favorite before heading home, Winegars Coffee & Creamery located next to the Central Washington University campus.
- Extra: You can see my personal trip to Central Washington on my Instagram account – as a highlight story. @Lexxgetslost
If you are looking to get away and immerse yourself in Pioneer life, head to Kittitas County!
A special thank you to the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce, Madison Ford, Natalie Benson and the towns of Cle Elum, Ellensburg, and Roslyn for hosting us.