Over the decades since the city was incorporated in 1958, Richland’s city planners have done an incredible job of creating a pedestrian friendly, neighborly, walking path along the waterfront of the Columbia that runs the length of its eastern boundary.
From the Columbia Point under the Richland-Pasco bridge to the USS Triton Park at the Port of Benton, a distance of 7.0 miles of accessible and paved walkways and bike trails await your visits. What’s interesting about this park system is its diversity; it was clearly thought-out, and it shows. The Columbia River is a treasure that offers aesthetic beauty, recreation, fishing, and irrigation for Richland’s residents to enjoy free of charge.
At the base of the Richland-Pasco bridge is a park with several gym sets for kids, a large marina with expansive parking, and four excellent restaurants with outdoor dining: Lulu’s, Anthony’s, Budd’s, and Drumheller’s offer drinks, appetizers, and dinners along with waterfront view. We covered a few of these restaurants in our article “Patio Dining in Phase 1.5.” In the park system’s design, planners clearly kept citizen access as a key concept. With all of these restaurants and the boat launch, parking, etc. there is no point at which walking, or biking is interrupted, nor is any of the trail system private or interrupted.
As you move along the river to the north, the trail will take you through the jewel that is Howard Amon Park. It offers a climbing rock, illuminated tennis courts (no fee), a wading pool, a concession stand, and is home to Richland’s Community Center. New apartments are presently being built to overlook this local-favorite spot. There are boat docks, plenty of green grass, tables, patio covers, benches, and in the summer, the river boats from Portland stop overnight and allow their passengers to disembark into Richland.
Heading further north, you will ascend a hill to a dike that was constructed in 1948 to combat flood waters. It is called The Miracle Mile because it was built very quickly and with cooperation of many arms of government and businesses. It is a mile-long and about 12’ tall, along the riverbanks. As you drop back down, closer to the water level, there’s a parking lot, bathroom facilities, and access to a trail that is still in a natural state for bird watching, walking or horseback riding. At this point there are two trails, the upper for bikes and the lower for pedestrians.
Still further north you will find new volleyball courts with sand that has been brought in made just for the sport. Near the courts, the grass drops down to the riverbanks where a sandy beach awaits the best place for swimming along the river. There is an island off this part of the park that keeps the swimming area shallow for recreation. It is also sometimes roped for swimmers when the current is weaker. This is the perfect place to learn to paddleboard. Again, picnic shelters, restrooms, water access, and pathways are neat, clean and welcoming.
About a half of a mile further north you will find Leslie Groves, a portion of the park system that offers soccer fields, more tennis courts, another boat launch and plenty of green fields for frisbee, more tennis courts, a basketball court, another boat launch, and access to town via Saint or Snyder.
Another short stretch of path takes you through a natural area to Ferry Landing where you need to take to Harris for a short transfer to the “end of the road” by WSU Tri-Cities. Here, the path continues along the university to the Port of Benton and the Triton submarine.
At each and every stop, the efforts of city employees that keep all of these connected parks, walkways, facilities, etc. in impeccable condition is recognized. Their efforts afford anyone who wants to enjoy this park system, a free opportunity for leisure. What is so spectacular about Richland’s park system that flows along the eastern edge of the city and along the Columbia River is the city planning that it must have taken to keep the accessibility public. So many places of nature’s beauty in other cities are privately owned. While there are many beautiful homes that share these gorgeous views, there are no private residences that interfere with the public’s enjoyment of the mighty Columbia River.