Rattlesnake Ledge, one of the most popular hiking trails in the I-90 corridor, reopened in late March 2021 after being closed for nearly a year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. During the closure, work started on some much-needed improvements to make the trail more sustainable and able to withstand the high volume of hikers who use the trail each year.

The Rattlesnake Ledge trail was originally built completely by hand in 2003-2004. At that time, those planning and working on the project expected the trail to see 50,000 to 75,000 visitors per year at the very most. Now the trail sees up to 300,000 users per year, far surpassing all expectations, and its popularity continues to grow. The way the trail was originally built was never intended to withstand the usage it’s seen in recent years, so it’s quite exciting that these long-overdue improvements are now underway.

The original trail was built as a partnership between the City of Seattle-Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Washington Trails Association, and EarthCorps, and the same partners are coming together to complete the much-needed upgrades to the trail. The first phase of the project was completed during the trail closure, during which time a contractor on a mini excavator removed large rocks and obstacles to clear the trail. More than 700 volunteers will complete 5,000 hours of trail work during the spring and fall of 2021.

The trail upgrades will include:

  • Renovating two miles of trail, including improving the trail surface, combating erosion, clearing brush from the trail route, and revegetating areas that have been impacted by hikers
  • Working to keep trails dry by improving drainage in multiple locations
  • Eliminating 200 feet of rotting wooden structures that support the trail and replacing them with rock structures
  • Improving two key switchbacks to make them stand up better to the many hikers who visit each year
  • Removing many dead and dying trees to ensure safety

This project was made possible thanks to funding from the Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities program, the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, and the support of SPU.

How To Support The Trails You Love

When you’re out on the trails, please remember to practice good stewardship behaviors, which includes choosing to always Recreate Responsibly and Leave No Trace. Simple actions can have big impacts — like staying on trail, never cutting switchbacks, and always packing out ALL of your trash. We all have a role to play in caring for these special places!

You can also support future projects such as this by giving to organizations like the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Washington Trails Association.