Washington on the Verge of a Trail Building Boom
From the Puget Sound region to the Methow Valley and beyond, trail advocates and government agencies are working to build new trails between communities.
Check out some promising trail projects underway that will greatly improve both transportation and recreation.
Trails have many benefits, from health and wellness to carbon-free transportation and improved mobility.
They also bring in lots of money. Recreational trails contribute more than $8.2 billion to Washington state’s economy and support more than 81,000 jobs annually, according to a 2019 report from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
Here are some of the biking and walking trails being developed that will boost economic activity--and offer more opportunities for healthy recreation and transportation.
The Eastrail bike and multi-use trail received $29 million in state funding earlier this year to accelerate work and close gaps in the regional 42-mile route. Read our previous post about how the Move Ahead Washington funding will fast-track completion of two bridges and other projects on the Eastrail.
King County recently opened more than two miles of new gravel trail on the Eastrail between Kirkland and Woodinville. People can now ride north from the former end of the Cross Kirkland Corridor to Woodinville, where a new crossing connects to the Sammamish River Trail. Watch a video of this new segment from Best Side Cycling, or check out the map on the King County Parks Facebook page.
The new Wilburton light rail station in Bellevue is among the light rail stops that people will be able to reach via the Eastrail. In 2023, a new 500-foot-long bike and pedestrian bridge will allow people to safely cross over Northeast 8th Street, one of the busiest streets in Bellevue, to reach Wilburton station from the Eastrail. Read more here.
East Lake Sammamish Trail
Construction is underway on the final segment of King County Parks' East Lake Sammamish Trail, where King County is working to pave the last gap in this favorite Eastside trail. Construction is expected to wrap up in late 2023, according to a King County Parks press release.
Lake to Sound Trail
Scheduled to be completed in 2023, Segment C of the Lake to Sound Trail will close a 2.2-mile gap between Des Moines and Normandy Park. The Lake to Sound Trail will stretch from the southern tip of Lake Washington to Puget Sound when finished, connecting five South King County cities and two Sound Transit light rail stations.
Click here for more information on Segment C and the Lake to Sound Trail.
The Leafline Trails Coalition is working to connect about 500 miles of existing trails in the Puget Sound region into an integrated 900-mile network that would allow people to bike and walk throughout King, Pierce, Kitsap, and Snohomish counties. See an interactive map of the network here.
“The process for building and planning trails is often long and time-consuming,” says Claire Martini, Leafline project manager. “Having Governor Inslee’s support for the Leafline is great, and it will enable us to hopefully close these gaps and complete the work faster.”
Sound to Olympics Trail
The proposed Sound to Olympics Trail (STO) would be a major component of the Leafline network, and it would fill a gap in the cross-country Great American Rail-Trail. A short paved segment of the STO called the Sakai Pond Connector recently opened on Bainbridge Island.
Learn more about the STO in our post, “Big Progress Coming on the Olympic Discovery and Great American Trails.”
The North Sound to Olympics Trail would be a northern route across the Kitsap Peninsula from Kingston to the Forest Heritage Park in Port Gamble. This northern route would be in addition to a southern route from the town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island. Learn more about efforts to build the North Sound to Olympics trail here.
South King and Pierce County
The Tacoma to Puyallup Trail Connection would create a safe route between Tacoma and Puyallup for people biking and walking. Design work is underway on a proposed segment between Fife and Tacoma. “It’s very exciting and much needed,” Martini says.
in Federal Way, the city is designing a 1.25-mile trail parallel to Pacific Highway between 288th and 308th, "part of longer-term work to knit together south King County and Tacoma," Martini says. Another effort is underway in Sumner, Milton, Edgewood, and Pacific to close gaps in the Interurban Trail between south King County and north Pierce County.
Artistic rendering of the Foothills Trail bridge, courtesy of King County Parks.
Construction is about to begin on a new bike and pedestrian bridge over the White River on the Foothills Trail, a beautiful trail with farm and mountain views through Pierce County. Once completed in 2023, the bridge will close a 1.5-mile gap--shown below--and connect the Foothills Trail from Enumclaw to Puyallup for a 30-mile ride.
North Creek Regional Trail
This trail will link Bothell to North Creek County Park in Snohomish County. The North Creek Regional Trail will become part of a regional system that will connect the Sammamish River and Burke-Gillman trails with the Interurban Trail in Everett.
Willapa Hills State Park Trail
We pedaled segments of this 56-mile rail-trail underway between Chehalis and Willapa Bay last winter in our post, “From Farmlands to Oyster Beds,” calling it an “epic destination ride in southwestern Washington state.”
One of the major projects on the trail is the construction of a new bike and pedestrian overpass in the small town of Adna, where the state hopes to complete the bridge “by fall 2022 or early winter 2023,” says Michael Hankinson, a State Parks planner who is overseeing the Willapa Hills trail development.
A rider enjoying an unimproved segment of the Willapa Hills trail. Photo courtesy Jeremiah Meacham.
The state is also working to improve many of the small former railroad bridges and install compacted gravel on segments of unimproved trail in Pacific County.
Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
At 289 miles, this is the longest rail-trail in the nation and a key portion of Great American Rail-Trail. More work is underway to complete unfinished segments, including multiple bridge projects.
In April, the state finished work on the Tekoa Trestle in the town of Tekoa near the Idaho border.
“The Tekoa Trestle has been an icon of the town since its construction in 1909 by the Milwaukee Railroad Co.,” writes the Spokesman Review newspaper. “Now, after years of advocacy from locals and trail riders alike, the 975-foot bridge is open to the public, and the little town of Tekoa hopes it becomes an economic driver for the rural community.”
State Parks has also secured funding to rebuild the Crab Creek bridges located about nine miles east of the newly opened Beverly Bridge over the Columbia River, according to State Parks trail planner Randy Kline. Restoring the bridge will have a beneficial economic impact on small towns nearby that rely on bike tourism, according to the Columbia Basin Herald.
Washington Bikes was instrumental in securing funding to rebuild the Beverly Bridge, which State Policy Director Alex Alston calls “one of the most exciting new pieces of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the country.”
The Methow Valley is renowned for its recreational trails, but a proposed trail between the towns of Twisp and Winthrop would function as a safe transportation corridor for schoolchildren and others to safely bike or walk between the two communities. Learn more about the TWiN Trail from Methow Trails.
Share Your Ride, Share the Road
These are just a few of the trail projects are eagerly watching. Are there trail projects that you are excited to ride in your community? Share them with us social media.
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