National Trails Day 2009 marked the completion of two years of facility improvements at the popular Little Si Trail on June 6th. Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark (center) joined Bill Chapman, President of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (right) and Gwen Lewis of King County’s Road Services Division (left) for the ribbon cutting of the renovated trail system and the grand opening of the new bridge across the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River at the site, new parking area and connector trail.
In the shadow of the broad edifice of Mount Si, Little Si is the smaller knob, at an elevation of 1,576 feet. The rocky outcropping at the summit of Little Si Trail offers expansive views of the Snoqualmie Valley. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of visitors have taken their toll on the trails, and inadequate parking and the mixing of walkers and cars on the narrow access road have caused safety concerns.
“Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area—including Little Si—is a jewel, and DNR manages it to combine protection of the native forest ecology and extensive hiking access,” said Peter Goldmark. “But heavy use places demands on the trails and local community. That is why this collaboration and funding from Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the Recreation Trails Program, along with the help of hundreds of volunteers and crews is so important. We are able to keep the trails in good condition, and provide safer access to this forest trail overlooking the valley.”
A longstanding partnership between Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust helped solve two challenges at Little Si: building a connector trail between the new lot and Little Si Trailhead, and carrying out extensive repair of 2.2 miles of hiking trails. In addition, King County helped DNR solve issues regarding access.
The Greenway Trust coordinated conservation corps crews and volunteers to build a new trail to connect the two parking lots, resurface the Little Si Trail and build retaining walls, steps, and drainage and rock turnpike to prevent erosion. Over the past two years, Greenway volunteers contributed 6,300 hours on this trail.
“The new and improved Little Si Trail, expanded parking area and new bridge over the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River offer better access for the hiking public to this great trail,” said Bill Chapman. “Little Si offers close-in hiking for the family with a Northwest forest feel and sweeping views of the Snoqualmie Valley, right in the heart of the Greenway. We truly appreciate the hard work by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and King County Department of Transportation, as well as the efforts of hundreds of Greenway volunteers who made these improvements possible.”
King County needed a new Mount Si Bridge across the Snoqualmie River. DNR needed a new parking lot and access away from the road for the huge influx of hikers and climbers at Little Si. DNR offered the county a staging area for bridge construction and King County provided the design and permitting of DNR’s parking lot.
Funding came from a $250,000grant to pay for construction of the new parking lot as well as a $75,000 Recreation Trails
Program grant and $55,000 in DNR capital funding to rebuild the trail. Combining the bridge and parking lot saved significant funds, and one stormwater retention facility could be used rather than two separate ones.
Greenway volunteers, including this group from REI Southcenter Store, worked on trail maintenance at Little Si, Teneriffe Falls, Tiger Mountain and Squak Mountain on National Trails Day.