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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Trailhead Direct returns with more routes connecting hikers to more trails

Summary

The transit-to-trails service co-led by King County Metro and King County Parks with additional funding from Seattle Department of Transportation and REI Co-op returns April 20 with more routes connecting convenient transit locations to popular trailheads.

Story

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Trailhead Direct – the weekend and holiday transit-to-trails service co-led by King County Metro and King County Parks – will return April 20 with more routes connecting hikers to more backcountry trails.

The second full season will offer more pick-up sites – including the Tukwila International Boulevard Station – with service to more trailheads, including Little Si near North Bend and the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Hikers will again be able to take Trailhead Direct to some of King County’s most popular trails, including Mount Si and Mailbox Peak.

Passengers boarded Trailhead Direct for more than 10,000 hikes last season when the service expanded thanks to additional funding from the City of Seattle.

“We’re bringing back Trailhead Direct with more routes to more trails in more communities,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Our popular transit-to-trails service has succeeded in many different ways. We have made our spectacular mountain forests accessible to more people, reduced dangerous overcrowding at popular trailheads, and made it easy to hike without having to drive or park.”

“Transit can be a pathway to opportunities like school, training, jobs, and health care – and to our incredible outdoors. For thousands of our neighbors and visitors to our region, Trailhead Direct has created more equitable access to our mountains,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “We are grateful to Seattle voters for choosing to invest in transit. 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."

Three of the four routes connect to Sound Transit Link light rail. Transfers between Trailhead Direct routes are easily made at Eastgate Freeway Station, Issaquah Transit Center, and North Bend Park-and-Ride.

Hikers will be able to board Trailhead Direct services at four Sound Transit Link light rail stations: Tukwila International Boulevard, University Street, Mount Baker, and Capitol Hill. All four routes are connected to transit hubs, including the Issaquah Transit Center, the Eastgate Freeway Station in Bellevue, and the North Bend Park-and-Ride.

Trailhead Direct started in 2017 as a single-route pilot project and expanded in 2018 with additional funding from the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Other sponsors included REI Co-op and Clif Bar & Company, which helped fund outreach and promotion.

The pilot project was in response to dangerous overcrowding at popular trailhead parking lots, which frequently exceed their capacity during spring and summer weekends and holidays.

The service also makes the region’s mountain forests accessible to more people who either prefer to take transit or do not have access otherwise. Starting a new route in Tukwila addresses community feedback from south King County residents and makes backcountry trails more accessible to residents who live in some of the nation’s most racially diverse communities.

Hikers who take Trailhead Direct from downtown Seattle and Tukwila will arrive at trailheads in less than an hour and do not have to park.

New and modified service based on customer feedback

Trailhead_Direct_Logo_Green KClogo_LONG Seattle-logo_horizontal_blue-black_digital_large

King County added and modified the service based on customer feedback after last season. New routes and stops create a better-connected transportation system that offers hikers opportunities to hike from one Trailhead Direct drop-off location to a different pick-up location.

The newest route offers service to the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park starting at Sound Transit’s Tukwila International Boulevard Station with stops at Renton Transit Center and Renton Highland. Passengers have the option to continue on to the Issaquah Transit Center where they can transfer to Trailhead Direct routes to additional hikes in the Issaquah Alps, or east to Little Si, Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, and Mailbox Peak.

At Little Si, Washington State Department of Natural Resources worked with King County Parks and Metro to design and construct a new drop-off and pick-up location for Trailhead Direct service.

Trailhead Direct Mailbox Peak returns with a much different service design. In 2018, the route started at a satellite parking lot at Twin Falls Middle School. This season, it will start at the Issaquah Transit Center with a stop at the North Bend Park-and-Ride.

The new service design makes it possible to board any Trailhead Direct vehicle to get to any of the designated trailheads.

Trailhead Direct operates 13-, 17-,19- and 27-seat vehicles. Each vehicle has a rack for either two or three bikes. Passengers pay Metro’s standard $2.75 fare. Passengers can pay with an ORCA card, Transit Go Mobile ticket, or cash with exact change.

Dogs may ride at the discretion of the operator under Metro’s guidelines. Passengers with larger, non-service dogs may need to pay an additional fare.

A convenient, environmentally friendly option to enjoy forest trails

More than 1,000 residents completed a post-season survey last fall. Here are some of the survey results:

  • 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.

Partners include City of Bellevue, City of Issaquah, City of North Bend, City of Renton, City of Seattle, City of Tukwila, Eastside Fire and Rescue, ECOSS, Issaquah Alps Trails Club, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, REI Co-op, Seattle Department of Transportation, 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.

Trailhead Direct - Mount Si

Trailheads: Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, Little Si

Start point: Bus stop at Broadway and East Denny Way across from Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Link light rail Station located at 140 Broadway E, Seattle, WA 98102

End point: Bus stop at East John Street and Broadway East, adjacent Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Link light rail station on Broadway East in Seattle.

Additional stops on First Hill, on Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle near the University Street Link light rail station; the Eastgate Freeway Station in Bellevue; and the North Bend Park-and-Ride

Schedule: This route will operate on weekends and Metro holidays until the end of October. Service to the trailheads will depart Capitol Hill Link light rail station every 30 minutes between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Returning service will depart the trailheads every half hour between 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

2019_Trailhead_Direct_Map_MtSi

See a larger Mount Si map

Download the Mount Si brochure (PDF)

Trailhead Direct - Issaquah Alps

Trailheads: Margaret’s Way, Chirico Trail-Poo Poo Point, the High School Trail, and East Sunset Way

Start and end point: Mount Baker Transit Center Bay 2 across the street from Sound Transit’s Mount Baker Link light rail station on Rainier Avenue South.

Additional stops at Eastgate Freeway Station and Issaquah Transit Center.

The Issaquah Alps provide more than 15,000 acres of connected public forest lands and over 100 miles of connected hiking trails. 

Schedule: This route will operate on weekends and Metro holidays until the end of October. Vehicles will leave the Mount Baker Transit Center outbound to the trailheads every 30 minutes between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Return service from the trailheads begins at 10:30 a.m. and operates every 30 minutes until 6:30 p.m.

2019_Trailhead_Direct_Map_IssAlps

See a larger Issaquah Alps map

Download the Issaquah Alps brochure (PDF)

Trailhead Direct - Mailbox Peak

Trailhead: Mailbox Peak

Start and end point: Issaquah Transit Center: 1050 17th Ave NW, Issaquah, WA 98027

Additional stop at North Bend Park-and-Ride at 301 North Bend Way. 

Schedule: This route will operate on weekends and Metro holidays until the end of October. Service operates from Issaquah Transit Center every 30 minutes between 7:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Return trips start from Mailbox Peak at 10:30 a.m. and run every 30 minutes until 6:30 p.m.

2019_Trailhead_Direct_Map_Mailbox

See a larger Mailbox Peak map

Download the Mailbox Peak brochure (PDF)

Trailhead Direct - Cougar Mountain

Trailhead: Sky Country – Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

Start and end point: Bay 1 at Tukwila International Boulevard Station on Southcenter Boulevard, downstairs from the Link light rail platform

Additional stops at the Renton Transit Center, Renton Highlands, and Issaquah Transit Center. Riders can connect with other Trailhead Direct services at Issaquah Transit Center to hike the Issaquah Alps or Mailbox Peak. 

Schedule: This route will operate on weekends and Metro holidays until the end of October. Vehicles will depart Tukwila International Boulevard Station every 30 minutes outbound to Cougar Mountain’s Sky Country Trailhead between 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Returning service will depart Cougar Mountain Sky Country Trailhead every 30 minutes from 10:45 a.m. to 7 p.m.

2019_Trailhead_Direct_Map_CougarMtn

See a larger Cougar Mountain map

Download the Cougar Mountain brochure (PDF)

Relevant links


Quotes

We’re bringing back Trailhead Direct with more routes to more trails in more communities. Our popular transit-to-trails service has succeeded in many different ways. We have made our spectacular mountain forests accessible to more people, reduced dangerous overcrowding at popular trailheads, and made it easy to hike without having to drive or park.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Transit can be a pathway to opportunities like school, training, jobs, and health care – and to our incredible outdoors. For thousands of our neighbors and visitors to our region, Trailhead Direct has created more equitable access to our mountains. We are grateful to Seattle voters for choosing to invest in transit. 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 A. Durkan, Seattle Mayor

At REI we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived. Trailhead Direct has proven to be a successful attempt at addressing major congestion issues at some of our regions most beloved outdoor places. Additionally the service has taken great steps to ensure that access to these destinations are equitable and enjoyed by all. We’re very proud to support Trailhead Direct and look forward to the services continued success as it offers everyone the opportunity to enjoy a life well lived in the outdoors.

Joe Impecoven, REI Experiences

Trailhead Direct provides an incredible opportunity for people to access and connect with their public lands. It reduces the number of cars on the roads and at our trailheads, while increasing the number of people who are able to experience some of the greatest trails in the country. Each person who steps off the bus and onto one of our trails has the opportunity to fall in love with the outdoors and become a champion of our public lands, helping ensure we preserve these lands for generations to come.

Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands

Washington Trails Association is a proud partner of Trailhead Direct. Transit-to-trails services are key to making our region’s wonderful trails accessible to more people. It also helps trailheads meet the growing number of hikers, without adding more cars to already crowded parking lots. We’re excited Trailhead Direct is back for the 2019 hiking season and are working to ensure it’s an ongoing option for King County hikers.

Jill Simmons, Executive Director, Washington Trails Association

Trailhead Direct provides a unique opportunity for everyone to explore some of King County’s best public parks and trails for the price of bus fare. The Wilderness Society is excited to see the county expand the service to south King County, where many people have limited access to the region’s parks and trails. We are hopeful this popular service will continue to close the gap between communities and the county’s treasured parks, trails and open spaces.

Kitty Craig, Washington State Deputy Director, The Wilderness Society

Trailhead Direct brings to life the longtime dream of accessing wilderness on the Metro. Transportation options like Trailhead Direct are more important than ever to sustainably connect our growing urban population to our beloved outdoors, and to make access to public lands more equitable.

Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Trailhead Direct is closely aligned with ECOSS’ goals to connect immigrant and refugee communities to outdoors experiences. Expanding to Tukwila helps address the very real transportation needs in South King County. Trailhead Direct reaches people where they are and takes them where they want to go. ECOSS is excited to work with Trailhead Direct again and advance the equity of outdoors access.

William Chen, Communications Manager, ECOSS

TOTAGO is proud to support the 2019 season of Trailhead Direct by integrating the service into our app. As a company we are focused on connecting people with nature. We see Trailhead Direct as model for other cities to follow and we are excited to be working with King County to make it easier for people to use transit to access parks and trails.

Adrian Laurenzi, CEO & Founder, TOTAGO

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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