Nonprofits bring trail improvements to Rattlesnake Ledge

A team of Washington agencies has combined forces to deliver much-needed improvements to the Rattlesnake Ledge hiking trail.

Owned and operated by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Rattlesnake Ledge, located just outside of North Bend, has been one of the state’s most popular hiking trails since it was built between 2003 and 2004.

The trail was expected to see between 50,000 and 75,000 annual visitors when it was first built, but with an increase in population and interest in the outdoors, the trail sees up to 300,000 visitors each year with its popularity continuing to grow.

“The way this trail was built was never intended to withstand the usage it’s seen in recent years,” said Mike Stenger, recreation projects manager for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “This work is long overdue, and it’s really exciting to now have the funding and original partners working together to make these improvements.”

Construction on the trail is a partnership between SPU, The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Washington Trails Association (WTA), and EarthCorps. The Greenway Trust worked with SPU for about five years to design, plan and secure a grant for the project.

The first phase of the project was complete while the trail was closed due to pandemic restrictions. Since then, 130 WTA volunteers put in 1,000 hours of work in the spring of 2021, and a mini excavator also removed rocks and obstacles on the trail.

Work resumed again this fall as volunteers have renovated 2 miles of trail with tread, erosion, surfacing and re-vegetation improvements. Volunteers will also eliminate 200 feet of rotting wood cribbing, replacing them with rock walls, and will reinforce two key switchbacks.

At the end of the project, volunteers are expected to contribute 5,000 hours of work to the trail. The project is anticipated to finish in the spring of 2022.

“Rattlesnake Ledge is not only the first hike many Washingtonians take, but it is also one we return to time and again,” said Jill Simmons, CEO of the WTA. “We are thrilled to be helping to make key trail improvements so that this hike continues to be safe and enjoyable.”