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New Little Si trailhead meant to ease neighbor's woes

Just about everyone loves the Little Si trail. Its views of the Valley and ease of climb make it one of the most popular hikes in the area.

And one of the most loathed.

Residents off 434th Avenue Southeast in North Bend, where the trailhead is located, have lobbied for years to get hikers off their road. Complaints of people walking through yards, letting their dogs run off-leash and making noise late into the night were often heard.

One man even complained that while watching the Super Bowl one Sunday, he turned around to find six strangers looking through his back window and watching the game along with him.

"They [residents] were getting pretty mad," said Doug McClellan, a project manager for the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Not to say anything bad about people from the city, but most of the people who came out here were coming from Seattle, Bellevue and Issaquah, where you can walk around late and make as much noise as you want. The people out here want a bit more quiet."

In 1994, the DNR met with residents of the neighborhood and asked what it could do to help. After a walk through the area with the residents, DNR officials came up with a short-term solution and a long-term solution.

The short-term solution included posting no-parking signs along the road and installing a public toilet at a gravel area located just past the bridge that goes over the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River that acts as a parking lot for hikers.

Located just around the bend from the existing parking lot is the long-term solution: a new Little Si trailhead.

The $235,000 trailhead, which was constructed by Weber Construction Inc. of Snoqualmie, includes paved parking spaces, toilets and a bulletin board. It should be completed by the end of the month.

McClellan admits, however, that the long-term solution just completed might end up being another short-term solution. The new parking lot holds 29 cars, but McClellan said he has seen as many as 70 vehicles parked along the road when the day is nice and hikers abound.

"We just can't keep up with the demand of the trail," he said.

So McClellan is busy at work trying to come up with a plan to expand the new trailhead. The DNR purchased the land next to it - much to the delight of neighbors, since the owner of the land was planning to sell it as a rock quarry - and hopes to somehow connect it with the old parking lot.

It won't be easy, as the DNR has to find some way of connecting it to the new trailhead without disturbing traffic on the road or the property that lies between it and the old parking lot.

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