This year required a lot of us all. But, despite the distance, together we shone a bright light on the importance of trails. We formally launched in fall 2020, backed by leaders from the four counties Leafline will one day connect. Looking back at where we started—and the first gathering of trail managers, advocates, businesses, and community groups in 2018—it’s clear that there is immense support for trails in central Puget Sound!
Check out what we accomplished together:
This winter, we set our sights on our most ambitious year of programming to date by crafting our charter, nominating Leafline’s first Leadership Group, and successfully fundraising to stand up backbone staffing.
In the spring, when the world stopped coming together in person, we took our in-person Coalition fully digital; we soon reached new levels of engagement throughout the region. As parks and trails closed, we shared information about trail usage policies throughout the region to make sure essential workers could keep using trails to get around and people could recreate responsibly as they turned to trails to support physical and mental health.
Over the summer, as transportation stimulus talks began in Washington, D.C., we rapidly assessed the magnitude of need for trail investments in our region and communicated with federal policymakers about the significant health, economic, environmental, and transportation benefits of trails.
As we entered the fall, we formally launched, two years after our initial convening. Our team worked to build a new website, many of you helped spread the word about our joint efforts, and the media took notice. With your help, we were able to double our membership and our roster of trail supporters!
Now, our Leadership Group is making plans to catalyze momentum for trails across central Puget Sound in 2021 and beyond. The next step is working together to expand the 450 miles of wide, shared use paths that we enjoy today, but we need your support as we develop our map vision. We couldn’t do this work without you!
While it may be some time yet before we can gather in person, it’s still possible to get out for a walk, bike, run, or roll on our growing network of trails. Join us in celebrating some of the major milestones that trail managers and Coalition partners accomplished this year:
- In King County, we celebrated the opening of a new segment of the growing Lake to Sound Trail, funding for the long-awaited Georgetown-to-South Park Trail, a new connection on the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail, the start of construction on WSDOT’s segment of Eastrail, and work on a new Eastrail segment to connect Kirkland and Woodinville by 2021. A $2 million combined gift from REI and Facebook—which will connect the Eastrail with the 520 Trail—demonstrates the strong business support for connecting trails in our regional network.
- Kitsap County obtained nearly $2 million in federal funds towards construction of a portion of the north segment of the Sound-to-Olympics Trail. The paved, ADA-accessible trail will ultimately connect Kingston and Bainbridge Island (and their ferry terminals) through the 3,500-acre Port Gamble Forest Heritage County Park to Hood Canal Bridge. While a 2018 Kitsap County Feasibility Study established the 6+ miles route through the park, a year-long master planning process launched recently to determine additional recreational opportunities along the STO Trail. In collaboration with the Kitsap Public Facilities Distract (KPFD), the upper portion of this alignment will be designed and permitted by 2022, followed by construction of the the first paved segments, providing an important link between Port Gamble and the Stottlemeyer Trailhead.
- Key Pierce County milestones included design and funding for the Parkland Community Trail Project (will connect Parkland neighborhoods to five schools, three Pierce County parks, and Pacific Lutheran University), design for a 1.6 mile segment of the Pipeline Trail (linking the existing regional trail network in Tacoma through to Orangegate Park), and a partnership between the City of Tacoma and MetroParks Tacoma to fund a segment of the Tacoma Water Flume Trail. In addition, the Voight’s Creek Bridge on the Foothills Trail opened after repair.
- Snohomish County made strides with the opening of the Whitehorse Regional Trail from Trafton to Darrington, where there is work underway to create a memorial at the site of the tragic Oso Slide. Construction is expected in spring 2021 on the North Creek Regional Trail, which will eventually connect the Interurban Trail in Everett with the Sammamish River Trail and Burke Gilman Trail in King County. Also of note, Community Transit released a new map of the Interurban Trail, underscoring the benefits of integrating trails with transit.
Want to be the first to hear Leafline updates? Be sure you’re on our email list for meeting invitations and exciting updates in 2021.