The Centennial Trail in Snohomish County grows to 29 miles in length on Saturday when an additional 4 miles of paved bicycle path opens to the public.
The new section rolls out between Bryant (just north of Arlington) and the historic Nakashima Barn at the Skagit County line. [The photo at right shows the bridge crossing at Pilchuck Creek.]
A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Nakashima Barn North Trailhead, 32328 State Route 9, Arlington.
Congratulations to the Centennial Trail Coalition of Snohomish County and public officials in the county for overseeing work on the rail-trail for more than 20 years.
Originally part of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad, the route was abandoned by the Burlington Northern Railway in the 1970s and early 1980s. Conversion of the right-of-way to a paved trail began in 1989, the state’s 100th birthday.
As with many rail trail conversions, the project has rolled along in bits and pieces. Earlier this year, the city of Snohomish completed the southern section through town and nearly to the Snohomish River front.
The trail is a great destination ride for bicyclists as it passes through picturesque farm country and forests. Snow-capped Cascade peaks dominate the horizon on clear days.
The opening on Saturday is at the northern terminus of the trail. The project had been delayed about a year.
Still remaining is about a 1-mile stretch approaching downtown Arlington from the south.
I contacted Mark Everett at Arlington Velo Sport to see if he’d heard about plans to finish that last section of the Centennial Trail. He said it looks like a planned expansion of 67th Avenue NE, which includes installation of the bike trail through this “missing link”, has been delayed until next year.
The city’s 67th Avenue NE project update website reports the $7.7 million project was going to begin this summer. No work has started, however, and I haven’t received any response from calls and emails to city hall about a new project timetable.
While cyclists can currently ride through from Snohomish to Arlington (and soon to the Skagit County line), the trail abruptly ends at 204th Street in Arlington. With no way-finding signs, the route continues generally north along 67th Avenue on a sidewalk, then onto 67th Avenue (or a grassy strip alongside adjacent railroad tracks). At the State Route 9 underpass, cyclists veer right then look for the trail on the left as they pass underneath the highway.
Everett says the section needs to be complete so more cyclists can enjoy the ride and services offered in downtown Arlington. As his shop is a half-block off the trail at 4th Street and North Olympic Avenue, he says he and other shop owners are looking forward to seeing more cyclists riding through town.
The trail passes through several small parks that cater to bicyclists and other trail users in the historic downtown. It continues across the scenic Stillaguamish River trestle and continues north to the trailhead that opens on Saturday.
Even with the challenging passage through Arlington, the trail makes for a wonderful bike ride.
A group ride to the dedication ceremony from Haller Park in Arlington leaves at 9 a.m. More details at Cascade Bicycle Club calendar.