Sacajawea Heritage Trail challenge set for Saturday

Whether by foot, wheels or kayak, there's a way for people to enjoy the fourth annual Sacajawea Heritage Trail Adventure Challenge on Saturday.

The free community event is sponsored by the Tri-Cities Rivershore Enhancement Council and runs from 9 a.m. to noon to encourage the public to explore the 23-mile trail that loops through Kennewick, Pasco and Richland.

During that time, 22 checkpoints sponsored by community organizations and businesses will be open along the trail. At each one, participants will receive a ticket to enter in a drawing for 50 prizes.

The first adventure challenge was held four years ago to celebrate the recently completed trail.

The event was so popular, among athletes and families, that the council has decided to continue it each year, said Kim Shugart, vice president of operations for the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau, one of the challenge's sponsors. Washington River Protection Solutions is the title sponsor.

The event is a chance for people familiar with the trail to try parts that they haven't used before and for those who weren't aware the trail was available to discover it, Shugart said.

"The trail is such a great resource. It's wide and flat," she said.

Other than a small area in Columbia Park, the trail is mostly traffic free, Shugart said.

Getting to all 22 checkpoints along the trail within the time limit really requires a bicycle, Shugart said.

The event also draws parents pushing young children in strollers, people walking dogs, runners, inline skaters, long-board skateboarders, wheelchair users, and last year, even some kayakers.

"You can do as much or as little of it as you want," she said.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s on Saturday, so Shugart suggests participants bring water and wear sunscreen.

She expects between 700 to 1,000 people at the event. Last year, about 650 people participated.

There is no cost to participate and no pre-registration required. People can enter the trail at any point and go in any direction, Shugart said.

Those age 5 and up will receive one ticket at each checkpoint they stop at.

Each ticket is a chance to win one of about 50 prizes, including two Novara Mountain bicycles donated by REI, as well as backpacks and stadium blankets.

Each checkpoint may feature information about the organization or some type of goodie for participants, Shugart said.

Some of the checkpoint sponsors include Bouncin Bins, Friends of Badger Mountain and Lourdes Health Network. For the map of checkpoints on the trail and rules, go to www.visittri-cities.com/adventure.

Now that the trail is finished, the Tri-Cities Rivershore Enhancement Council is looking at how to improve the trail, such as adding access to water, art along the trail or new entrances, Shugart said.

The council includes representatives from Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Port of Kennewick, Port of Pasco, Port of Benton and Benton and Franklin counties.