A well-liked Seattle-spot hike is receiving a face-elevate. Here’s what is heading on at Rattlesnake Ledge

You may well say Rattlesnake Ledge bought as well preferred for its own very good.

When it was hand-developed in 2003-2004, planners envisioned the North Bend trail to host up to 70,000 hikers per year. Today, 300,000 pairs of hiking boots hit the trail each calendar year, and that number has saved developing by the pandemic. AllTrails lists Rattlesnake Ledge Trail as the next most well-liked hike in Washington, following Mount Rainier’s Skyline Trail.

In fact, it was the pandemic that paved the way for an ongoing upkeep challenge on the common path, which closed in 2020 and gained additional than 1,000 several hours of volunteer work through the closure and into 2021 — the commencing of a deal with-carry that will carry on through spring 2022 and involve an estimated 5,000 whole volunteer hours.

When social media rippled with drone pics of a packed Rattlesnake Ledge summit just one March weekend in the course of the early times of pandemic lockdown in 2020, Seattle General public Utilities — which owns and operates the trail — shut Rattlesnake Ledge as Washington moved to near numerous state parks, also.

SPU utilised the extended closure to upgrade the trail, earning it safer and much easier to navigate, with support from primary trail associates including the Mountains to Sound Greenway Rely on, Washington Trails Association and EarthCorps. The Nonhighway and Off-Road Automobile Actions Program, the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Business, and SPU funded the challenge.

“The way this path was created was hardly ever supposed to face up to the use it is found in new several years,” mentioned Mike Stenger, recreation initiatives manager for the Greenway Rely on.

Other Western Washington leisure web-sites are also continuing to see greater use, owing to increasing populace and a “heightened curiosity in outdoor activity” owing to the pandemic, observed a news launch about the job from the path associates.

All those partners and the hundreds of volunteers (and counting) performing on the trail have experienced their palms complete. Ongoing advancement assignments on the path involve boosting the tread of the route, reducing erosion, regrading and planting alongside 2 miles of trail, boosting trail drainage, removing 200 toes of rotting wood crib walls (or changing them with rock partitions), and reinforcing and armoring two most important switchbacks.   

Through the park closure last calendar year, a contractor cleared the trail of large rocks with a miniature excavator, which authorized the preliminary team of 130 WTA volunteers to get to work. This 12 months, volunteers from Washington Conservation Corps and EarthCorps joined the project. The goal is to complete the function by this coming spring.

What will make a very good path from a structural standpoint? A stable, obvious, nicely-drained route.

“A good deal of the concentration is on setting up the higher switchback rock partitions to discourage switchback chopping, which damages trails,” explained LeeAnne Jensen, Puget Seem field supervisor for Washington Trails Association, referring to hikers heading off the trail to prevent switchback turns headed up or down the mountain.

Also, while the grades are “pretty light,” Jensen states the undertaking is functioning to mitigate some steeper grades.

Liz Ulloa has volunteered with WTA given that 2007 and has been doing work Rattlesnake Ledge at latest perform events this yr.

“What we did now was narrowing the trail corridor, so building, ideally, a considerably less wet trail and offering strategies for h2o to get off path via drainage. In essence just delineating the trail far better,” she reported immediately after a workday this drop. “We had been adding ferns and rocks into the grounds and wooded particles to make the path clearer so it is not just a huge runway.”

She famous that addressing the drainage will help stay away from “braided trails,” another human error challenge prompted when hikers, to get close to soggy spots, make their very own trails. Insert time and vegetation, and shortly the authentic path becomes obscured.

What makes a great trail from a Seattle recreation standpoint? Just 40 minutes from Seattle by car, Rattlesnake Ledge Path provides views of Mount Si, Mount Washington, the Cedar River Watershed and two lakes — all in a 4-mile out-and-back trek with only 1,160 ft of elevation get, building it accessible to beginning hikers and families. With an japanese publicity, it tends to make a amazing sunrise hike for early risers. Its high place at 2,079 feet is usually totally free of snow for a lot of November. No allow is necessary, and parking is free of charge. There are several limitations to entry.

“Rattlesnake Ledge is a incredibly legendary Puget Sound hike,” Jensen stated. “A whole lot of people are out for their initially hike, or it is the just one you provide your household to when they are in town. If you get up there in the sunshine, it’s a lovely view of the valley. It’s one of those far better operate-to-reward ratios.”

It’s safe to say the mystery is out on this well-known route: Reviewers on AllTrails and the WTA web site give Rattlesnake Ledge path 4.5 and 4 stars, respectively, with many commenters echoing two items: how well preserved the path is and how crowded it is.

Ulloa, an avid hiker and calendar year-spherical volunteer, sees tangible advantages for herself and the volunteers she coaches on the Cascade favorite. She stands at a desk all 7 days functioning on mortgages and likes to strike the woods on the weekend.

“I really like the camaraderie, I like training folks new techniques, I like the kind of gleam in people’s eyes when they recognize they are really building a big difference for a great deal of persons by doing this function,” she stated.

A family enjoys a spring hike earlier this year at Rattlesnake Ledge. The trail has grown increasingly popular since its construction in 2003-04, necessitating long-term maintenance work that was started on the trail during an extended closure last year. (Courtesy of Washington Trails Association)

At Rattlesnake Ledge, Ulloa’s get the job done is pausing now for the winter season, but the path will be open to hikers.

“It’s undoubtedly passable,” mentioned Jensen. “We want to make absolutely sure the path is left safely so everything is good and walkable. Most hikers possibly will not truly see what do the job is left to do. Most of the remaining function is widening or narrowing trails.”

If you do hike this wintertime, take note that the cliff ledge has been the web-site of quite a few lethal falls, so little ones and leashed canine must be viewed carefully, and all hikers should acquire serious care all through wet or icy ailments.  

To preserve these attempts for many years of future hiking, trail builders strain to usually abide by the “leave no trace” standards on the path — these kinds of as packing out trash and staying on the trail.

Fearful you missed out on the fun? Jensen estimates there will be about 17 a lot more do the job parties following yr. No encounter is vital — if you are intrigued in signing up for volunteers next spring, you can sign-up on WTA’s website at wta.org.