Saturday, March 18, 2023

Outreach for New Active Participation As the Snohomish County Trail System Grows


The Trail Coalition of Snohomish County (AKA Centennial Trail Coalition of Snohomish County) is reaching out to reinvigorate local participation in our advocacy effort promoting the development of long-distance trails for non-motorized use in Snohomish County.  Our group has had a long and productive relationship with Snohomish County Parks as advocates and information sharing enthusiasts.   We want to encourage new members and board members.

The purpose of the coalition has evolved through time, beginning in the 1980s, when the “Housewives from Hell” campaigned Snohomish County to build the trail on the existing railroad between Snohomish to Arlington. The first section, from Snohomish to Lake Stevens, opened October 26, 1988.  The trail was named “The Centennial Trail” in recognition of the State Centennial in 1989. The coalition was then named the Snohomish to Arlington Trail Coalition.  As the trail got longer the group officially became the Centennial Trail Coalition of Snohomish County.  We had active participation from walkers, bike riders, equestrian users, and local landowners, and functioned as a unique community of advocates from many perspectives.

When the trail was completed to Arlington in the late 1990s, and then to the Nakashima farm near Skagit County, a group of coalition members decided to continue as the Trail Coalition of Snohomish County, largely focusing on the Whitehorse Trail to Darrington. It seemed like a long shot, but then the big landslide near Oso buried the railroad and the highway in 2014, instigating regional and national interest to complete the trail to Darrington for economic development.

Our interaction with Snohomish County Parks has been especially useful in both directions, sharing public interest and advocacy goals of the neighbors and trail users with the county managers, and in return getting information from county managers about plans and updates.   


Here is the latest update of plans and projects in progress shared from Snohomish County Parks at our January board meeting (special thanks to Snohomish County Senior Parks Planner Emily Griffith):


“In the next few years, Snohomish County will be moving ahead in the development of our regional trail system. We have many upcoming projects, including the development of new regional trail connections. For all of these projects, we will be reaching out to the community for their input and insight. Some of the highlights include:

1.      Whitehorse Trail Phase 3: This project will address the two closures on the Whitehorse Trail due to landslides and river washouts. The first closure is between the Centennial Trail connection and the Trafton Trailhead and the second is just west of 435th Ave NE near Darrington. This project is already underway and in the early stages of design. We anticipate sharing out the conceptual designs for the project Spring/Summer 2023. For more project information visit the project website:

2.      Snohomish River Regional Trail Phase 1: This new, approximately 5.5 mile trail will connect the City of Everett to the City of Snohomish, approximately between Rotary Park and the future Centennial Trail South extension. Work on this corridor is beginning in 2023 and will take place over the next few years as the corridor alignment is finalized and design and development of the trail occur.

3.      Centennial Trail South Extension: This trail will extend the current Centennial Trail from the City of Snohomish south to Woodinville in King County. This 12 mile trail corridor will complete the regional trail through Snohomish County, from the Skagit County line to the King County line and will eventually connect to the King County trail system further south. The new trail section will be similar to the existing Centennial Trail, and will accommodate both pedestrian and bicycle usage. The proposed alignment traverses areas with steep cross slopes, bridges, trestles, sloughs and other natural features which complicate construction. As a result, trail construction is anticipated to take place in phases. Work on this corridor is resuming in 2023.”


Our advocacy group would like to pass along this opportunity for residents to join in the discussion, share ideas and proposals, and give continued opportunities to learn from park management what is happening.  Members have actively used our connections to bring in suggestions and needs concerning other regional trails such as the Interurban Trail, the North Creek Trail, and a future connection between the Centennial Trail to Monroe and eventually a hoped-for connection to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

In 2020 the Coalition board prioritized online zoom meetings replacing the 30 plus years of local monthly participation in open meetings and activities at various locations around the county.  This change to online meetings led the board to limit participation while still trying to be completely open to participation but limiting participation to people who requested to join the monthly online discussions.

In the future it is possible that new neighborhoods near the developing trails will encourage new participants who to want to become active.  The Trail Coalition would like to continue facilitating those goals and learn what will best encourage successful participation from new members.

If you are interested or know others who would like to join, contact us:

The next board meeting will be 5:30 PM May 18, 2023.

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