Postcards from the Peak #1: Breaking Ground

Construction has officially begun on the new trail at Mailbox Peak. Scheduled to be finished in fall 2013, the new trail will offer hikers a much more sustainable route to the summit. It climbs the roughly 4,000 vertical feet in five miles, as opposed to the same gain in the existing trail’s two miles. The mountain will be grateful, as will the knees of those hikers choosing the new route.

The trail also serves as the perfect place for volunteers to get their hands dirty, and will provide endless opportunities to expand their trail construction knowledge and repertoire.
Eight days of work has brought us about 7/10ths of a mile of new trail. The perfect mixture of diesel, sweat, and volunteer enthusiasm has made for a safe and very productive start to what is shaping up to be a fantastic project. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust’s two new trail technicians, Cole Maier and Lara Petersburg, have hit the ground running, clearing obstacles for equipment operator Chaz Murray’s mini excavator. Chaz’s machine allows for the new full bench trail to be cut into Mailbox’s northwest face as efficiently as possible, and will allow the trail to stand the test of time while making a minimal impact on the mountain.

National Trails Day brought out approximately 60 eager volunteers to the new trail. Groups included Washington Conservation Corps, National Civilian Conservation Corps, and REI, as well as many fervent returning volunteers. The unflappable group was undeterred by the inclement weather, as frequent bouts of downpour were met with jubilant cheers while the work carried on. At the end of the day we had put finishing touches on 3/10ths of a mile of trail, completed thousands of square feet of erosion mitigation projects, and built a new 100-foot-long elevated turnpike. The day was an awesome way to start work on what will prove to be a tremendous trail in the magical Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. Thanks to everyone who is volunteering their time to help out. Stay tuned for more opportunities to lend a hand on Mailbox this summer.

Special thanks to the project funders: Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WA State DNR)Washington State Recreation Conservation Office, the Spring Family TrustFederal Highway Administration.


New Trails Project Coordinator Jon Paulson is a Minnesota native who has spent the las 7 years running trail projects all around the country, including Montana, Alaska and New Jersey. He’s an avid climber, hiker, and businessman having set up his own trails construction company in Missoula.