The picturesque Pratt Bar day-use area is now accessible thanks to a new bridge. The 45’ wooden bridge provides access to a short trail out to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and a broad gravel bar with soaring views of surrounding mountains and the Valley. Prior to its installation, visitors were forced to cautiously make their way down a short but steep slope adjacent to the road, and tip-toe across a loose collection of paving stones across a stream.
This recent development comes thanks to some creative repurposing of trees and an ‘only-in-the-Greenway’ type of collaboration between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the USDA Forest Service (USFS), the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.
Improving access to Pratt Bar, located in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, with a new bridge was identified as one of the top recreation priorities in the Middle Fork Valley. What makes this bridge unique is the material used to build it. During the Middle Fork road reconstruction, several trees had to be removed to make way for safer road set-backs and bridges. This created an opportunity to save the logs and use them backbone of the future bridge. FHWA, who was rebuilding the road, set the logs aside, and then this fall the Greenway Trust teamed up with USFS, DNR, a local contractor, and Greenway Trust trail crews to build the bridge.
Due to its remote location, the logs had to be milled on site with an Alaska Saw Mill, provided by the USFS, to create the smooth, flat walking surface and tight side-by-side fit necessary for a bridge. After the logs were prepared, an excavator was used to gently lift each of the two logs and place them on the prepared abutments. Once the bridge was installed there were a few leftover wood sections that were repurposed as new benches.
Now that a safer and more sustainable bridge is in place, visitors will be able to enjoy the Pratt Bar, a beautiful destination for a family picnic, learn to fly fish, or gaze across the Middle Fork River toward the rugged ridgeline of Russian Butte, with ease for years to come.
Pratt Bar is best explored late spring through early fall, because the trail after the bridge is on the river’s floodplain and is seasonally flooded.
With the onset of the fall rains in November, this area will be best explored next spring.