Skip to main content
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


10,000 round trips: Hikers embrace Trailhead Direct in its first full season

Summary

Passengers boarded Trailhead Direct for more than 10,000 roundtrips in the first season of the two-year pilot project. The transit-to-trails service made it possible for more hikers to explore King County’s mountain forests without having to drive or park, and it reduced dangerous overcrowding at popular trailheads.

Story

Hikers boarded Trailhead Direct for more than 10,000 round trips during the first full season of the transit-to-trails service, increasing the number of people who explored King County’s mountain forests without having to drive or park.

Trailhead Direct – co-led by King County Metro and King County Parks – offered weekend and holiday service to some of the most popular hiking destinations in the region, including Mount Si, the Issaquah Alps, and Mailbox Peak. The Seattle Department of Transportation provided a portion of the operating cost of the pilot service while REI Co-op and Clif Bar & Company helped fund outreach and promotion.

“Hikers throughout King County have embraced our convenient transit-to-trails service,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The success of Trailhead Direct is an excellent example of how we are creating a customer-focused transit system that does more than provide reliable weekday commutes. We are connecting more people to popular destinations on weekends, making it easier to enjoy many of the spectacular places that make our region such a special place to live.”

Trailhead Direct makes hiking trails accessible to more people who do not have a car or prefer to take transit to reduce carbon emissions. It also reduces dangerous overcrowding at some of the most popular trailheads.

“Transit can be a pathway to opportunities like schools and jobs – and to our incredible outdoors. For thousands of our neighbors and visitors to our region, Trailhead Direct has made it easier to use transit to access our mountains. Trailhead Direct builds on our investments in Seattle’s transit network, where we’ve improved the frequency and reliability on 64 other routes,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “This innovative public-private partnership is creating new opportunities for all who call Seattle home to get outside and explore one of the most beautiful places in the world."

Passengers boarded the three routes a total of 20,373 times during the season. Two boardings typically equal one round trip.

10000 hikes
Trailhead Direct Boardings
  • Route 634 to Issaquah Alps: 8,526
  • Route 636 to Mount Si: 8,197
  • Route 637 to Mailbox Peak: 3,650
  • Total: 20,373

The first route started in April, offering service from the Mount Baker Transit Center to multiple hiking trails in the Issaquah Alps. Trailhead Direct launched its second route in May, offering service from Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Link light rail station to Mount Si. The third route, which started in June, connected a satellite parking lot in North Bend to Mailbox Peak. The season ended the final weekend of October.

The top reason customers took Trailhead Direct? It’s more environmentally friendly than driving

More than 1,000 residents completed a recent survey conducted by the partners. Here are the key findings:

  • The top reason people took Trailhead Direct was because it is “more environmentally friendly than driving.” “Not owning a car” was a close second followed by “not having to worry about finding parking at the trailhead” coming in third.
  • More than 60 percent of passengers took Trailhead Direct more than once. Nearly 20 percent took it at least four times.
  • More passengers used public transit to get to Trailhead Direct vans than any other option.
  • Nearly 90 percent of respondents said it reduced overcrowding at trailhead parking lots.

Other partners include the cities of Issaquah and North Bend, the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Outdoors For All Foundation, Si View Metropolitan Park District, The Mountaineers, The Wilderness Society, TOTAGO, U.S. Forest Service, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and Washington Trails Association.


Relevant links


Quotes

Hikers throughout King County have embraced our convenient transit-to-trails service. The success of Trailhead Direct is an excellent example of how we are creating a customer-focused transit system that does more than provide reliable weekday commutes. We are connecting more people to popular destinations on weekends, making it easier to enjoy many of the spectacular places that make our region such a special place to live.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Transit can be a pathway to opportunities like schools and jobs – and to our incredible outdoors. For thousands of our neighbors and visitors to our region, Trailhead Direct has made it easier to use transit to access our mountains. Trailhead Direct builds on our investments in Seattle’s transit network, where we’ve improved the frequency and reliability on 64 other route. This innovative public-private partnership is creating new opportunities for all who call Seattle home to get outside and explore one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Jenny Durkan, Seattle Mayor

We have a responsibility to inspire the next generation to be stewards of the outdoors. I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to engage with their public lands and this program eliminates many of the barriers that keep people from those experiences. By providing low-cost and environmentally-friendly access to hiking trails, Trailhead Direct helps inspire all ages, races, and income brackets to get outdoors and fall in love with nature.

Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Many immigrants and refugees want to connect with nature, but are excluded from outdoor recreation opportunities by language, transportation access and other barriers. ECOSS bridges these gaps with diverse communities by connecting them to services like Trailhead Direct. Trailhead Direct has been exemplary in conveying the communities we serve to new experiences, such as first-ever hikes up Mount Si and through the Issaquah Alps. Thank you King County and The Wilderness Society for partnering with us to expand outdoor access for all!

Allan Kafley, Multicultural Outreach Manager, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS)

At REI Co-op we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived. As employees, Co-op members, stewards, and most of all lovers of the outdoors it is important to us that we support innovative solutions like Trailhead Direct that will provide equitable access to the outdoors for all.

Joe Impecoven, Puget Sound Market Coordinator, REI Co-op
For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography