Access to mountain biking trail limited for 3 summers by road construction

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Good news: The long-awaited paving of the deteriorated Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road into the remote valley east of North Bend will finally get underway in May.

MF1Bad news: It will be difficult — and at times impossible — for mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians to get out to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trailhead for the next three summers.

The project is expected to be complete in August 2016.

The road will be paved between the eastern intersection of Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road and Lake Dorothy Road and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Campground — a distance of about 9.7 miles.

Road closures

The 2014 road closures run from May 5 through Oct. 31. Here’s the schedule:

— Lake Dorothy Road — closed to the public beginning May 5.

—  Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road between the eastern Lake Dorothy Road intersection and the campground — Road closed from 12 noon on Monday until 12 noon on Friday (May 5 – Oct. 31, 2014); road opening from 12 noon Friday until 12 noon on Monday (May 5 – Oct. 31, 2014).

Further, from July 28 until Sept. 26, 2014:

— Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road closed 7 days a week from the CCC Trailhead to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Campground.

The work

Active Construction of Tacoma won the $14.9 million contract to pave 9.7 miles of gravel road. The completed road will be 18 to 20 feet wide, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Also, the job includes reconstructing two bridges and replacing a third with a culvert.

A press release by Mountains to Sound Greenway says:

“This construction project has been a long-time in the making and will be a huge benefit not just to recreationists in the valley, but also to fish and wildlife. Paving the currently pothole-filled road up the valley will improve drainage, open fish passage for cutthroat trout migration, greatly enhance water quality, reduce future maintenance of the roadway, and create a smooth drive for families heading outdoors for a hike or picnic.”

The Washington Trails Association says it will benefit the 100,000 people who visit the Middle Fork to hike, camp, kayak and go fishing, as well as the natural setting. In the meantime, they suggest visiting other trails in the Issaquah Alps region.

Middle Fork Trail

Middle Fork Trail skirts the river in places

Middle Fork Trail skirts the river in places

One of the destinations for mountain bikers heading up the road is the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail. The trail is a beautiful, wild, dirt track that runs through heavily wooded National Forest Service land east of North Bend. Volunteers from the Evergreen Mountain Biking Coalition and the Washington Trails Association worked to upgrade the 14-mile trail through the towering Douglas fir and western red cedar.

It’s only open from June 1 through Oct. 31 every year, and mountain bikers only get to ride it on odd-numbered days (equestrians get to ride it on even-numbered days).

The only way in to the main trailhead is the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road, which has about 9 or 10 miles of pot-holes.

A number of organizations, including the Mountains to Sound Greenway, have been lobbying to get the road repaired. Well, looks like it’s finally going to happen.

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