Caring for the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley

The Upper Middle Fork

Once plagued by illegal dumping, shooting, and widespread trashing of the river corridor, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley today is an amazing story of a regional treasure reclaimed. For nearly 20 years, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust has worked with land managers and other community partners to improve public access and restore the natural habitat and ecosystems of the Middle Fork. The Valley is now a haven for our outdoor-loving Puget Sound community, but existing trails and recreational infrastructure are insufficient, unable to handle this surging attention. Valley trails are deteriorating and riverbanks are once again taking a beating.

To turn this around, and make sure the Valley has the recreational amenities to handle all this love, the Greenway Trust is teaming up with the U.S. Forest Service and other long-time partners on two high-priority projects in 2014.

Middle Fork Trail Reroute

Middle Fork Trail washout
Middle Fork Trail washout

For hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians the Middle Fork Trail is the primary route into the wilds of the Upper Middle Fork Valley. This 15-mile-long path features big views of Mt. Garfield and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. However, severe washouts only three miles from the Middle Fork Trailhead have made the trail impassable for horses. Further deterioration will impact access for all users. Funds raised through this campaign will enable us to reroute this endangered section of the trail and restore native vegetation along the way.

New Pratt Bar Trail

In this valley of wetlands and streams, there are surprisingly few areas that can provide river access year after year without damage. The Pratt Bar is such a place, a sunny Middle Fork gravel bar big enough to accommodate lots of visitors while maintaining the feel of a remote mountain stream. Today, access to the Pratt Bar is difficult: you must ford a creek and negotiate a confusing tangle of unofficial trails. Follow the wrong trail and you’ll end up bushwhacking or straying into a wetland. With funds raised through this campaign, we will install a footbridge and build a well-defined trail to the Pratt Bar, creating dependable four-season access for visitors to enjoy this amazing spot.

The future of the Middle Fork

The Pratt Bar and Middle Fork Trail projects are elements of a multi-year effort to prepare the Middle Fork for growing public use. The Washington State Department of Natural Re

Kayakers at the Pratt Bar
Kayakers at the Pratt Bar

sources, the major land manager in the lower Middle Fork Valley, is working on a new family-friendly trail up Mailbox Peak in addition to more trails, improved river-access areas, and much-needed facilities like bathrooms.

In 2016, a newly paved Middle Fork Road will reopen to the Middle Fork campground, a $20 million upgrade managed by the Federal Highway Administration.  This new paved surface will greatly enhance water quality in the valley by reducing the amount of gravel and sediment flushed from the road into wetlands and creeks during rainstorms. Also, new drainage structures will reopen coastal cutthroat trout migration routes that have been blocked for decades. And the notorious Middle Fork Road potholes will no long deter visitors.

This beautiful, wild place with so many recreational opportunities is a perfect place for people to make a personal connection with the natural wonders that surround us in this region. Every person who makes that connection is another advocate for preserving this fragile, precious resource. To properly welcome a new generation to outdoor recreation in the Middle Fork, we need to get ready.

You can help!

A grant through the National Forest Foundation requires matching funds to keep these projects on track this year. With your donation we can enhance public access to these two much-loved destinations in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley. Every donation, no matter how small, carries us closer to our goal.

We have something incredibly special in the Middle Fork, with towering mountains, lush forests, clean rivers, and hundreds of wilderness adventures reachable within minutes of our cities. To sustain such natural splendor in harmony with a growing metropolis is a major community achievement and a continuing challenge. Your donation will help maintain this precious balance. Please take part in continuing this legacy.

Priority Areas:
Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley
Post Categories:
Conservation, Explore, Recreation