The Annette Lake Trail Restoration Project: A Path to Sustainability
Path reconstruction revitalizes a popular trail to improve the health of habitats and humans.
The Annette Lake Trail winds through talus avalanche chutes and roaring waterfalls, enrapturing thousands of visitors each year who trek through old-growth woodland within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to catch a glimpse of neighboring mountain tops. As many as 3.63 million people live within a 70-mile drive of the forest, making this trailhead accessible to in-state as well as out-of-state visitors. This trail connects many to vital habitats created by Douglas fir, cedar, and hemlock, as well as a multitude of species that include endangered seabirds called the marbled murrelet. Unfortunately, these trails were not built to withstand so many footfalls, so they require continuous upkeep to stay safe for generations of recreationists.
Challenges Facing the Trail and its Visitors
Over the years, these trails have been marked by serious erosion. According to Mike Stenger, Recreation Projects Manager for the Greenway Trust, this has created challenging obstacles for users that have resulted in twisted ankles and other injuries, and therefore more search and rescue calls. It has also exposed local in-stream habitats to runoff and erosion.
Several years ago, the Greenway Trust was tapped by the Snoqualmie Ranger District to help manage the rehabilitation of this trail to create a more sustainable path. Since then, Stenger has led administrative tasks to coordinate work with the help of contractors and restoration crews. This past summer, the Greenway Trust began implementing the final phase of the Annette Lake Trail Project to create a passage that is safer for people and the many webs of life that exist in that area.
Protecting Wildlife and the Environment
The Annette Lake Trail Project is a crucial effort to reconstruct 2.6 miles of the heavily used trail from the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail to Lake Annette. Planning this project took four years of assessments and ground truthing in collaboration with the USFS Snoqualmie Ranger District, The Greenway Trust Recreation Team, Backwoods Contracting, and the Washington Trails Association (WTA). During the planning phase, an environmental assessment was conducted to ensure that wildlife, including the endangered marbled murrelet, would not be disturbed by work done on the trail. Following rules that protect the nesting season of these seabirds, the Greenway Trust and WTA will work together to reconstruct the entire trail.
The project goals include reconstructing and re-excavating the trail, as well as the installation of erosion control structures to protect streams, waterways, and hikers. The reconstruction effort will include elevating 580 feet of the trail above wet ground, constructing 330 feet of crib ladder steps, and performing maintenance on existing structures. By building steps, we’re helping to hold soil and protect runoff from being filled with silt in order to protect streams and amphibians.
A Model for Public-Private Partnership in Trail Maintenance
The Annette Lake Trail project is a much-needed improvement to one of the most heavily used trails in the Snoqualmie Ranger District. With the help of the Great American Outdoors Act and the support of several key partners, the trail will be restored by November 2023 with better erosion control and safer features. The project not only protects the environment and wildlife, but also the thousands of people who visit the trail every year. The successful completion of the Annette Lake Trail Project will serve as a prime example of how the public and private sectors can come together to create a better outdoor experience for all.
Projects like these are made possible through generous support from our communities; consider becoming a donor to fund trail restoration projects that keep us connected to the wild.