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Project in Snoqualmie Corridor will mean more outdoor opportunities

By Mark Yuasa
The Seattle Times
A 10- to 15-year vision outlined in a massive project plan by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) puts forth development and preservation of 120 miles of hiking trails, whitewater rapids, climbing areas, picnic and camping sites, and other recreational areas covering 53,500 acres.

 

A 10- to 15-year vision outlined in a massive project plan by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) puts forth development and preservation of 120 miles of hiking trails, whitewater rapids, climbing areas, picnic and camping sites, and other recreational areas covering 53,500 acres.

Outdoor recreational enthusiasts will soon have more places to enjoy their favorite activities in the expansive Snoqualmie Corridor region.

A 10- to 15-year vision outlined in a massive project plan by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) puts forth development and preservation of 120 miles of hiking trails, whitewater rapids, climbing areas, picnic and camping sites, and other recreational areas covering 53,500 acres.

“It’s an exciting time right now, and we’ve got a lot of partners (King County, State Parks, state Fish and Wildlife and many other private groups) and support that are creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation in the corridor,” said Doug McClelland, the DNR assistant regional manager of natural areas and recreation.

The DNR has been involved since the mid-1980s acquiring land from Issaquah to North Bend that hold some of the most diverse terrain within close proximity to the greater Puget Sound population.

Studies found about 800,000 visitors each year hit the trails and waterways of the West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA, Mount Si NRCA and Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area.

“It is a large stretch of area that lies in the Mountains to Sound Greenway where we enjoy a lot of recreational activities,” said Amy Brockhaus, coalition director for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in Seattle.

McClelland said projects in progress are trail access-point work on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River; bridges and roads along with trail development on the Teneriffe Trail at Mount Si; and eight miles of mountain-bike trails on East Tiger Mountain.

The main focus of work in the next five years or so will occur on the Raging River State Forest, Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie and Mount Si Conservation areas.

On West Tiger Mountain the objective is to expand the existing High Point Trailhead parking area, and look for growth in environmental education, interpretation and day use, and developing Exit 20 off I-90 as a gateway to the corridor.

The West Tiger Mountain area currently has 90 parking spaces surrounded by 41 miles of designated trails, and about 34 miles are designed specifically for hiking.

In the Tiger Mountain State Forest, plans are to build out the existing Tiger Summit trailhead, and design and develop a new trailhead for mountain biking in the Raging River State Forest (currently has 52 parking spaces), a popular stopover for mountain bikers.

The plan would also make Tiger Mountain State Park more accessible for horseback riding. The area hosts about 36 miles of trails for a wide range of activities. The Tiger Summit Trailhead has 50 parking spaces, and the Poo-Poo Point day-use area — a launch site for hang gliding and para gliding — has 10 spaces.

“This plan calls for more accessibility into the Raging River area, which is a great investment because right now there is no public access to much of the area,” Brockhaus said. “This project calls for hiking and mountain biking in the appropriate places while being aware of sensitive natural areas around the thousands of acres they’re opening up.”

Almost half of the Raging River basin was privately owned until 2009, when the DNR and King County purchased 7,000 acres.

In the Mount Si NRCA, the main objective is to build a parking lot to support trail access to a new trailhead on the south side in the Mount Teneriffe area for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Most of the 12 miles of trailhead are designated for hikers only at the Little Si (85 parking spaces) and Mount Si trailheads (150 spaces).

The concept would also expand parking in the Mailbox Peak Trailhead of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA, and create a new Granite Creek Trailhead for hiking access to the Granite Creek Trail.

Part of this project will allow river access and a day-use area along the Snoqualmie River’s Middle Fork at four locations. The Mailbox Peak area has a capacity to hold 45 vehicles, and the Mine Creek day-use has only three spaces.

A road-reconstruction project happening now near the Middle Fork Snoqualmie will eventually allow outdoor recreation to take off in what is a popular recreation spot.

“The road reconstruction will make it that much more accessible,” Brockhaus said.

The funding at the request of the DNR will come through the state legislature, along with a mix of public and private money, and grant funding.

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