The long-awaited South Fork Snoqualmie project is underway. Right now, a huge excavator is taking old logging roads and turning them into singletrack designed for mountain bikers.

The first phase of the project was funded through a $75,000 grant Evergreen received last year (thanks Doug Walsh!), combined with several hundred thousand in road-removal grants that Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust received. Eventually, a 20+ mile system of roads will become singletrack. Right now, we have enough funding to build the first 3 miles of this system. This is a huge step forward, and is the result of over a decade of work by Evergreen and our volunteers. More sections of road will be turned into trail as funding becomes available.

The trail system is located between North Bend and Snoqualmie Pass, in the Hansen Creek Drainage. To get there you take Exit 47 from I-90 and travel 5 miles on gravel roads to the trailhead, which is at 3300 feet.

This huge excavator is up there until late September building us trails. The conversion process is turning roads into trails where mountain biking is the "Primary Management Objective". While the trails will be open to hikers and equestrians, they are designed specifically for mountain biking.

Justin Vander Pol from Evergreen has been up on site with the contractor ensuring that the trail incorporates mountain bike-specific design elements such as undulations, smooth curves, choke points, and other mountain trail design elements.

 

These pictures show the first section of trail (the lower road) that used to be logging roads. Notice the views--these will be the best views we have within an hour drive of the Seattle metro area.

Check out the views! There are scree fields and viewpoints all along this trail, ensuring that many of the views will remain even as the forest matures. All these pictures show converted roads.

One constraint is that the converted trails all must stay withing the former road prism. The means that steep roads result in steep trails, and there are a few sections where the grades will be a grunt of a climb. To make good trails, the machine operator is putting is as much meandering as possible. This is more fun to ride, controls speeds, and lessens the effective grade for a better climbing and descending experience.

This picture shows a sliver of trail, and looks across the I-90 valley to the mountain peaks in the distance. The camera is pointing roughly northeast in this picture. The scenery up here really is a high-country experience, with scree fields, steep slopes, alpine flowers, and crisp air.

Most riders will park at the trailhead and ride up the section of road (it will remain road) where this picture is taken. From there they will go into the trail that will be created from the higher road you can see in this picture, continue onto a singletrack climb, and continue on a 2 mile singletrack descent, which is the section of trail circled in this picture.

In the short-term it is a fairly short ride, but as we secure additional funding and convert additional sections of road, this could become a 20 mile epic. It may take 10 or 15 years to complete the entire system, but we've started! High-country singletrack near Seattle is now a reality.

We will need your help between October 1 and when the snows hit at 3300 feet. Evergreen has committed 200 volunteer hours to the project as part of our grant match. We won't know exactly when we can start until the machines make a little more progress, but we need big turnouts at the work parties. Stay tuned and we'll get them on the calendar as soon as possible.

For more information about this exciting project, visit Evergreen's South Fork Snoqualmie page on the Trail Guide.

Update: Here's a few more pictures from September 17. The loop is now about 200 feet from being done, and the big machine has only a day or two more of work. Next up is evergreen work parties to fine-tune the trail.


Jon Kennedy about to be eaten by the excavator as Charlie, the machine operator, talks with Will, the Mountains to Sound crew chief.


Jon posing for Vogue Magazine on a section of newly created trail.


Jon and Will admiring the view.

Last modified on 2009-09-20 21:54:25 by Justin Vander Pol.


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