Trail maintenance is critical to the long-term sustainability of a trail network – meeting the increased demand for recreation, without negatively impacting the landscape.
For more than 20 years, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust’s Stewardship Program has been focused on improving existing trails to accommodate a growing population, increasing access, and improving trail safety.
The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley is one of King County, Washington’s last truly wild places, with old-growth forests, alpine lakes and peaks, white-water rivers, strong native trout runs and healthy populations of bear, elk, and cougar. Located only a 40 minute from downtown Seattle on I- 90, the Middle Fork has huge potential as a major recreational destination for the Seattle metropolitan area.
Twenty years ago, the valley was known for its chop shops, meth labs, and illegal dumping and shooting. A coalition of public and private partners spearheaded an intense clean-up, land acquisition, and recreation planning campaign to restore the valley and improve public access. In 2013, the Federal Highways Administration began a multi-year effort to repave the existing gravel road into the valley – thus significantly increasing the accessibility of the Middle Fork Valley.
To prepare for this increased use, the Greenway Trust applied for and won a grant from the National Forest Foundation’s Matching Awards Program with a matching contribution provided by Waste Management of Washington, Inc., and worked collaboratively with the U.S. Forest Service and the Middle Fork Outdoor Recreation Coalition to complete a number of improvements to wildland trails in the Middle Fork Valley, including:
- Maintaining more than 10 miles of wildland trails.
- Installing and upgrading trail structures, including converting 200 feet of puncheon to turnpike.
- Engaging community volunteers (including youth) in volunteer maintenance projects.
- Redeveloping the Dingford Creek Trailhead, including the installation of a CXT toilet, enhanced parking facilities, and other amenities.
National Forest Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the Greenway Trust, and this project is another success in the regional effort to restore the ecological health of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley and provide sustainable, year-round recreational opportunities and access to the valley and the adjacent Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.