Some of the most popular trails in the Greenway are along the Mt. Si Road in North Bend: Little Si, Mt. Si, and Mt. Teneriffe. On many weekends, that popularity is all too evident on the trails, in the parking lots, and on the road where congestion is causing serious safety concerns for hikers and local residents alike. The official parking areas are often full by 8am. After that, people start to spill out onto the Mt. Si Road, illegally parking their cars along the shoulders and then walking in the roadway or over neighbors’ lawns to reach the trailheads.
Promoting safe, sustainable access to recreation is a core Greenway priority. It will become more urgent as our region continues to grow, and more and more people flock to our public lands for recreation. Providing safe access will also become more complicated and challenging because existing infrastructure only offers so many parking spaces. We want to ensure that our public lands and trails are accessible to all while also making sure the experience is safe, enjoyable, and sustainable.
This summer, collaborative solutions were developed along the Mt. Si Road. Neighbors, State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and King County Roads Services Division teamed up to end unsafe parking along the road and design a new trailhead for Teneriffe that fits with the neighborhood. To ensure adequate coverage of safety patrols, the King County Sheriff just gave DNR officers the authority to enforce laws on county roadways, on a trial basis for one-year with a five-year extension possible afterwards.
Taking a longer view, the Greenway is working with King County Metro and other partners to explore the potential for creating public transportation options to popular trailheads so that you can head to the hills and leave your car at home. A pilot shuttle between North Bend and Rattlesnake Lake, by Snoqualmie Valley Transportation, will provide a first test.
If proven successful, the variety of lessons learned together between the Greenway, DNR, King County and neighbors could be used at other overcrowded recreation sites throughout the region. “When we work together, listen to each other, learn from each other, and adapt solutions, we come up with positive results,’ said Doug McClelland, assistant region manager for DNR.