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Dirty Harry’s Trail Gets a Makeover

Posted by Margaret Ullman at Mar 08, 2017 10:00 AM |
Little known a few years ago, this trail's popularity has grown rapidly. To handle the extra boots we're helping rebuild this route to make it safer, and more sustainable and accessible for hikers and climbers.
Dirty Harry’s Trail Gets a Makeover

View from Dirty Harry's Balcony

Dirty Harry’s Peak Trail—just off of I-90’s exit 38—is a popular hiking trail with spectacular viewpoints overlooking the I-90 corridor, and is the main access point to a growing system of sport climbing routes. Little known a few years ago, it’s popularity has grown. To meet the increased demand, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been working with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Washington Trails Association (WTA) to make this trail safer, and more sustainable and accessible for users.

The route was originally built as a logging access road in the mid-1900s by a local logger nicknamed “Dirty Harry.” You can still find some old logging relics around the trail, which climbs two miles and nearly 1,300 feet to the first lookout point—Dirty Harry’s Balcony—with spectacular views up towards Snoqualmie Pass and the I-90 corridor. Continuing another 3.5 miles brings you to the access for Dirty Harry’s Peak.

These viewpoints have become very difficult to access due to the steep and unstable trail. One section followed an old forest road, where water would run down the trail, becoming a river in a rainstorm, and eroding the trail surface. This damages nearby fish-bearing streams, and makes the route difficult to follow. Hikers and climbers who frequent this region have created several “social trails,” which can be damaging to the landscape.

This trail project is being completed thanks to the combined efforts of DNR, the Greenway Trust, and WTA. DNR secured the funding, designed the project, and is overseeing and coordinating implementation. To ensure the health of the landscape and the safety of trail users, WTA and Greenway Trust crews and volunteers have been working on building a long-lasting, easy-to-hike trail. WTA is constructing the trail section from the trailhead up to Dirty Harry’s balcony. The Greenway Trust has constructed the next section of trail, which leads up to Dirty Harry’s Peak. The Greenway Trust has also improved the surrounding forest and improve fish passage by decommissioning and converting to trail several miles of unsustainable and eroding former logging road, including a section on adjacent Forest Service land.

The Dirty Harry’s Peak Trail is expected to be completed in late summer 2017. Check back for project updates and an announcement when the trail is opened for use. Until then, please respect trail closures, both for your safety and the safety of trail crews.

Want to help out? Join our April 1st volunteer event!

 

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