Rattlesnake Ledge Trail, a 5.3-mile trail located near North Bend, Wash., attracts nearly 300,000 hikers from across the Pacific Northwest every year.
Volunteers and staff members took to the trails this fall to work on much-needed improvements, according to a news release from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. Other key organizations include Washington Trails Association and the City of Seattle-Seattle Public Utilities (SPU).
“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 at 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.”
As part of the project, about two miles of trail is being renovated to address tread and erosion issues as well as grading, surfacing and revegetation. Work is also being done to improve trail drainage and replace 200 feet of rooting wood with rock walls, the release states. Improvements are estimated to be completed in spring 2022.
The agencies first started work on the trail last year when it was closed due to the pandemic, the release states. During this time, a contractor removed large rocks and other obstacles using a mini excavator. In addition, about 130 WTA volunteers contributed roughly 1,000 hours to improve the trail.
Crews for the Washington Conservation Corps and EarthCorps will have invested about 5,000 hours once the project is completed, the release states.
After some progress was made, hikers returned to Rattlesnake Ledge in late March 2021 through the busy summer season. Visitors should continue to be aware that they may run into volunteers while spending time on the trail, the release said.
“Every visitor to Rattlesnake Ledge plays a key role in caring for this special place. We can all help prevent damage by staying on the main trail, never cutting switchbacks and always packing out your trash,” said Julia Munger, watershed natural resources manager for SPU. “The same goes for issues such as parking. This is an extremely popular site, and we ask that visitors respect posted regulations and come back at another time if the lot is full.”
The release said Greenway Trust and SPU collaborated for about five years to design the project, secure funding and prepare the trail for work. The project received funding from the Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities program and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office as well as support from SPU.
The Rattlesnake Ledge Trail was originally constructed by hand in 2003-04. According to the release, agencies estimated seeing between 50,000 to 75,000 hikers each year, at the very most. Almost two decades later, about 300,000 visitors make the trek up the trail per year.
“Rattlesnake Ledge is not only the first hike many Washingtonians take, but it is also one we return to time and again with friends and family,” WTA CEO Jill Simmons said. “We are thrilled to be helping to make key trail improvements so that this hike continues to be safe and enjoyable for those who visit.”