The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opened its new 17-mile Raging River State Forest mountain bike trail system in May. The highly anticipated opening was able to kick off the summer outdoor recreation season, thanks to a dedicated team from DNR, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Puget Sound Corps members, and devoted community volunteers.
Mountain biking systems have dramatically expanded in recent years. The new Raging River trail complex joins the neighboring East Tiger Mountain bike trails, bringing more than 40 miles of mountain biking trail next door to Issaquah, Snoqualmie, and North Bend residents and within a 30-minute drive for Seattleites. Nestled between Rattlesnake Mountain, the Cedar River Watershed, and the Issaquah Alps, Raging River State Forest is a key outdoor recreation destination, adding numerous close-to-home adventures for our region’s growing communities. Recent trail system expansions have rapidly positioned the corridor to become a big draw for out-of-state visitors looking to spend a weekend riding. Pending additional funding and coordination, DNR plans to connect the Raging River and East Tiger mountain bike trail systems into a major complex, as well as add additional opportunities to ride straight from downtown North Bend. The new trailhead is just south of Interstate 90 exit 27.
The Raging River recreation area has been years in the making. In 2009, DNR acquired 7,000 acres of forestland just to the south of Rattlesnake Mountain, which would become a core part of the new Raging River State Forest. King County provided critical funding through the Conservation Futures Program and holds a conservation easement on 4,000 acres. This acquisition had long been a high priority in the Mountains to Sound Greenway, as it consolidates public lands for both ecological health and outdoor recreation and provides economic benefits to nearby communities from recreation seekers and tourists.
The new mountain bike trail system is part of DNR’s Snoqualmie Corridor Recreation Plan, which guides recreation development across working forestland and conservation land. Other nearby mountain biking destinations included in the plan are Olallie State Park, Duthie Hill, Tokul and Grand Ridge.
While the demand for outdoor recreation in the beautiful Northwest continues to flourish, a brand-new trail system into a newly-accessible state forest is a great step towards more sustainable recreation options. This contiguous trail system helps spread out usage, reduce congestion, and improves the overall biker experience. The grand opening of Raging River celebrates one of many projects underway in the Mountains to Sound Greenway that will strengthen our shared connections to the specular natural spaces right in our backyards.