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History lures visitors to the Snohomish County Centennial Trail. Trail users are reminded of old-time river and railroad settlements in the historically preserved storefronts and homes in Snohomish and Arlington. Illustrated displays at the regularly spaced trailheads explain the social and commercial heritage of the area.
The paved trail follows the original route of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway, parts of which were later acquired by the Northern Pacific and Burlington Northern. The trail runs 30.5 miles from the town of Snohomish to the border of Skagit County. After the railroad corridor became inactive, local efforts began for a trail in 1989, the year of the state's centennial celebration. The first 6 miles opened in 1991. Long-range plans call for extending the route southward to King County's Burke-Gilman Trail.
The Snohomish County Centennial Trail mostly rolls past farms and pastures and through forested watersheds. The path crosses creeks and rivers that drain the Cascade Mountains, whose snowy summits are visible in the east. Collectors might find it difficult to get started in Snohomish. More than a dozen antiques stores line First Street, where the trail currently starts. Better on-street parking is available at the traditional trailhead a few blocks north.
Though the trail soon enters farmland on the edge of town, this is usually the busiest section. Horse riders are prohibited between the Snohomish and Pilchuck trailheads, as well as another congested section between Armar Road and Bryant. Travelers will notice some elevation gain after passing the replica train depot in Machias. After the former lumber mill town of Lake Stevens, the climb continues through a forested corridor to placid Lake Cassidy, where bicyclists gather at picnic tables or walk out onto the pier. Cresting the summit, the downhill run offers a couple of viewpoints across the valley floor clear west to the Olympic Mountains on the horizon.
The trail's approach to Arlington runs adjacent to busy 67th Avenue through a light industrial zone. Signs at the 204th Street intersection point toward a new trail alignment that takes users into historic downtown Arlington and another depot replica. Just north of here, a bridge spans the churning confluence of the North and South Forks of the Stillaguamish River.
A gleaming arch marks the junction of the Centennial with the Whitehorse Trail, another rail-trail, mostly ballast, leading to Darrington (as of 2015, most of this trail is closed due to damage caused by a mudslide). The Centennial Trail continues on the left branch across remote farm and forestland to the Nakashima Barn trailhead, which memorializes the successes and difficulties of a Japanese American family.
To reach the Snohomish trailhead from Interstate 405, take Exit 23 onto State Route 522 E. Follow SR 522 E for 2.4 miles, and exit onto SR 9 N toward Snohomish. Continue for 9.5 miles to the Snohomish exit. Turn right onto Second Street. After approximately 1 mile, turn left onto Maple Avenue. Go five or six blocks. Look for on-street parking on the right.
To reach the Nakashima Heritage Barn/North trailhead from I-5, take Exit 208 for SR 530 toward Arlington. Follow SR 530 E for 3.7 miles. Turn left onto SR 9. After 7.7 miles, the trailhead is on the left.
Did the entire trail in both directions plus the extra six miles to match my age of 67. It was a wonderful experience, relatively quiet even when the trail ran adjacent to roads. Loved the scenery, met some very nice people, and the discovery of Nutty's Junk Yard and Grill was worth the 20 mile ride to get there. The deep fried mushrooms and burger did a great job of replacing the calories I burned on the ride. The northbound leg was a bit slower than coming back south so I would recommend starting in Snohomish. Would definitely ride this trail again.
As a round-trip, this makes a beautiful metric century ride. There is parking at both ends as well as many spots along the way. The trail is wide and in great condition. While the area around Arlington runs along a busy street and through light industrial sections, most of the trail is Royal and quite scenic.
Great trail for a long training ride. We went on a partly sunny day and it was busy between Snonohimish and Lake Stevens. After that it was fairly quiet. You can really relax and enjoy the scenery and the ride. Altho similar in grade to the Burke Gilman it is a very different experience, less populated and more scenic.
Wonderful trail. Smooth, wide pavement. Great for any bike style. Saw everything from skateboards to wheelchairs. I rode in the company of my daughter, Jennifer Roberts.
After riding this trail you will not want to ride the highway again!
This is a trail cyclists, walkers, skaters should not miss.
It is smooth, well kept and scenic. The best part for me, as a cyclist, is the length and quality of the ride. Pavement is consistently smooth and swept. Other active people on the trail are courteous, even when crowded on weekends. There are parking lots and restrooms spaced throughout. Water should be brought along with you, because there are only a couple fill up spots.
My only concern is the crossing light in Bryant flashes for traffic, apparently, but the walker or cyclist doesn't know when it does this since it is out of the line of site. I would think this function could be activated for crossing safety. Just watch that there is a gap in traffic or they have stopped before crossing. Hang only hands/bikes of kiddos at the crossings-many stop, but some are in a hurry.
There are great lunch, snack spots and it is great fun to explore the towns on foot or bike. There are lots of friendly people.
I would love to see this connect to King county's Burke Gilman or East Sammamish River trail. I'll need to study a map to see how it should be done.
Ride on. Where that helmet!
....Picking up a book at a Free Little Library, the frogs at Lake Cassidy and lunch at the Adriatica in Lake Stevens just 3 blocks off the trail. All of which you will find on this truly lovely trail.
Lovely day, lovely trail. from Arlington to about 10 miles out, it's a bit of a grind [I'm plus sized!].but I made it to Snohomish and back!
Reminds me a little of riding in the Netherlands!
Does anyone know if there is a connection from The Centennial Trail end at the Skagit County line to trails that continue North?
I have been searching the we, and see some evidence, but nothing up to date and concrete.
Thank you to all that post..
What is so rare as a sunny day in June in the Northwet? Having found one, the TrailBear headed towards the Northend Trailhead on the Centennial to see it and take a ride. Last time he looked, the trail went to the Pilchuck and was roughed in beyond there. Now the word is that it is all open.
The Northend focal point is the Nakashima Barn, all red and covered in local history pictures on the driveway side. The barn is closed and there is no power, so thing of it as an art wall.
The trail head has a two level parking lot with a pair of portapotties on the upper level. No water point was seen. It's a nice looking project and a suitable end to a great ride. Being a nice Saturday, there was a fair amount of traffic in the lot and on the trail. Walkers, dog walkers, roadies, bikies, a skate boarder and TrailBear on his trike.
The trail crosses a creek and then connects to the old road bed and heads towards Bryant. At about 2.6 miles out you cross the Pilchuck River. Take a look at the nice overlook with bench on the north side before you do.
The ride is mostly a straight and sunny shot down to Bryant where you find the highway crossing with flashers. The sign warns that traffic might not stop. I would not cross if there is traffic. No way to tell if the flashers are flashing when you are on the trail. Further south on the trail there is a crossing with a stop light. Traffic does stop. That one works.
From Bryant you can head south to Arlington, then to ArMar, up the grade to Lake Cassidy, then down the grade to the trail end short of the river in Snohomish. There is a lot of nice riding from north end to south.
It being lunch time, TrailBear headed back to Northend to get wife and van and head to Arlington to see about food.
In search of a trailhead with a burger bar.
This from "Toodles" on Bike Forums (PNW page)...
"Finally: The Northend Trail extension in Shohomish County opens
This was supposed to be completed at the same time last year but it finally has come. You can now ride out of downtown Snohomish to the Skagit county line. It's about a mile or two shy of Lake McMurray."
Although not "officially" open until Nov, the 4 mile extension past Bryant to North trail head park is paved and ready! Equally exciting is at the North Park you can see grading and survey markers continuing along the old rail line into Skagit county for another 2 mile extension to Lake Mcmurray.
CENTENNIAL TRAIL: South end extension
15 June 2012
The Snohomish Centennial Trail just got longer. A new 0.80 mile trail extension takes the trail past the old end at Maple and Pine down through Snohomish to end on 1st Street. Across the street is the approach to the rail bridge over the Snohomish River.
It is covered in weeds. We can always hope that someday the trail will cross the river and go to Woodinville and on to Redmond or Seattle on existing trails on the same Right of Way. What a ride that would be: Seattle to the Skagit County line.
ANTIQUE CAPITAL OF THE NORTHWEST
As a consolation prize, if you turn right for the Snohomish River Trail, as the sign across the street suggests, you will be in the antique district – Historic Downtown Snohomish. It’s quite the scene on a weekend. It was certainly busy on a Friday. That old looking building on your right at the trail end is an antique store – the start of the shopping. Beyond are antique stores, bistros, restaurants, ice cream parlors, antique homes and more. There is a little park (Cady Park) under the bluff there which is the east end of the City of Snohomish Riverfront Trail. It’s short, but it runs along the river below the antique district.
If you are looking to refresh yourself, the antique district is your best hope until Arlington. They are set up to wine, dine and ice cream you in their historic 150 year old waterfront.
There are no on-trail facilities or trailheads on the new extension. From First Street the trail runs behind the shops and back yards to Second where there is a jog over to the cross walks at the light. This is a busy street, so best use the cross walk. Across the street is a ceremonial arch (no roof, leaks in rain) over the trail. Go north a block to Third Street. Between Third and Fourth on the west is the Snohomish Public Library and a parking lot backing on the trail. This is what TrailBear would use as his trailhead on the south end of the trail. A roof, full facilities and books: What is not to like?
From the library there are three more blocks to the old trail end at Pine and Maple. There is parallel on-street parking along here and it gets a lot of use from the trail users. The next trailhead north is the one called Pilchuck, just south of US 2.
We know you do it. TrailBear does it (only on special occasions, of course). However, he recommends that you not bust the stop signs you see on the trail. There is too much cross traffic to make this a Good Career Move. “Beer truck crushes bike, film at 11”. Try to avoid this.
Getting a sunny day in the NorthWet in June.
The Snohomish Centennial Trail is getting better and better. A lot has happened north of Ar Mar since last August and use numbers reflect that.
Arlington thinks that a half million folks were using the trail last year. They like the increase in business and that should improve more with their new trailhead. If the county gets trail building starting on the Whitehorse Trail, Arlington will be where the trails meet and the place will be thronged in summer. $$$$, yes!
The Centennial is already one of our local destination trails. I drive an hour from the islands to ride it and combine this with shopping at "the highway, i.e., I-5). It's a great ride.
What's new north of ArMar?
ARLINGTON STATION, GE: 48.193360 -122.127395
The best news is the construction of a depot-style trailhead building (restrooms, water, meeting room) at the old Arlington Depot site. Now there is a new type of traffic passing though the old rail yard here.
The building was not there at of 8.11, but it sure is there today. Now riders have a nice trailhead in downtown Arlington. It's a good place to stage a ride.
JUNCTION ARCH, GE:N48.20605 W122.12936
There is a new plaza and attractive piece of public art at the junction of the Centennial and Whitehorse trails. It's an arch in the form of two trees combined into one canopy overhead. The Whitehorse is paved - for about 200' beyond the arch. More to do on that trail.
NEW HIGHWAY CROSSING AT BRYANT, GE: 48.240948 -122.160032
The trail crossing over WA 9 at Bryant is in, paved and the lights up. There is both a low button for humans and a high button for horses. They just don't appear to function yet. Do not trust them to stop traffic.
Why should they work? The trail is closed to the north out of Bryant trailhead - which is more pro forma than serious (no barbed wire, guards, etc.). There was a good deal of riding north going on, both horse and bike.
TB suggests that they need a rolling dedication. Finish a few miles, have a dedication with face time for the local pols, an opening ride and a party. Then on to the next section and repeat.
NEW BRIDGE OVER THE PILCHUCK, GE: 48.259691 -122.172207
You can see them building it in the Google Earth shots from last summer. Now it's up. There is a new span atop the old concrete piers. The trail is paved down to the new Pilchuck Bridge (new since last summer), but not beyond. The barricade at the bridge thus has more meaning. Of course, on a mountain bike... However, TrailBear was on a trike. Word is that the rest should be done by fall 2012, which probably means spring, 2013. Stay tuned.
Triking out of bounds
The gap was callled the ArMar Gap or Armar Gap not Anmar Gap. The Ar is for Arlington and the Mar is for Marysville. This road was the ArMar Highway at one time.
Reports from the field...
The Anmar Gap is closed. No more playing with logging trucks or taking the ditch.
TRAIL REACHES THE PILCHUCK...
The trail now extends past Bryant Trailhead 1.56 miles to the Pilchuck River crossing. This leaves about 3.6 miles to go to the northern trail end. They were working on renovating an old barn up there in the summer of '11 and doing a parking lot. The crossing should open in the spring of 12.
Google Earth photos from 8/25/2011 show them working on a new bridge there. Wonder where the old bridge went?
This is a fine trail now and when finished it will be a very nice ride - one of many in the NorthWet.
For an encore, how about paving the Whitehorse Trail out of Arlington towards Darrington?
Happier days are almost here on the Snohomish Centennial Trail.
Envision riding from Snohomish to Arlington and up to Bryant without risking life and limb at the Anmar Gap – that section of missing trail between Anmar Trailhead and the city portion of the trail up at the Rt. 531/67th Ave. NE intersection.
Today, to get from the trailhead up to Arlington you venture onto 67th Ave. NE. and take your chances on a two lane high speed road with logging trucks, soccer moms on the phone, no shoulders and deep, briar-filled ditches on both sides. You have to take the lane or the ditch.
On the far side of the intersection you pick up the bike/walk MUP on the eastern side of the street and take it north to the old depot, now a park, in downtown Arlington. From there it’s the Arlington Art Walk portion of the trail to the Stillaguamish River Bridge and up to Bryant.
Work is well along on closing the Anmar Gap with a new section of trail from the Anmar Trailhead up to the junction of 67th Ave. NE and SR 531. The new trail will meet 67th Ave. NE about a block short of the intersection for a bit of bike lane.
As of 8.28.11, the whole right of way has been cleared, graded and has the gravel base installed. Can we hope that the blacktop will be in before the fall rains? In any event, next summer there should clear riding from Snohomish to Arlington and beyond.
Things are happening beyond Bryant. While the trail now stops at Bryant, it is planned to go up to the Skagit County line. This spring the right of way up beyond Bryant was grassy double track with straw on the ruts. Now is has been graded. We hope that the gravel base will be installed soon. It would be nice to get blacktop at least up to the river. At the northern trailhead they are grading behind the barn. Parking lot? Looks like one. Stay tuned.
Today the Anmar Trailhead was getting fuller by the hour. We were parked in the overflow at 10 AM and that lot was getting crowded by noon. A lot of rides originate out of this trailhead. If Arlington steps up, that business can move to the old rail yard there. It’s now a park in need of a trailside restroom and water and things that would attract rider$.
What would be delightful would be ice cold beer, burger and ice cream stops along Railroad Street across from the trail. Riding up to Arlington for lunch and back might become a popular ride from the southern trailheads. The forward-looking owner of the grocery across the street from the Bryant Trailhead already advertises “Ice Cold Beer.”
With the Anmar Gap closing, TrailBear dreams of the Whitehorse Trail being paved up to Darrington. Arlington would become a local Destination for riders, with trails north, south and east. Who knows... Skagit County might build a connecting trail that will run up to the Cascade Trail. (TB is not holding his breath on that one.)
We went back to explore the status of future trail extension north of Bryant to the county line. Construction has not yet resumed. Apparently the contractor is waiting for the area to dry out before they can move in with heavy equipment. The conditions are unchanged compared to what is described in my previous trail report. But the short 3-mile ride north of Haller Park and across the bridge is always fun.
The southern section of the Centennial Tail between Snohomish and its current terminus at Armar Rd. south of the Arlington airport has received many compliments and detailed reviews.
The Snohomish County trail map shows the continuation planned north of the city of Arlington. A small segment of that Centennial Trail North continuation is now paved and rideable (completed in September 2010). This trip report supplements the excellent earlier reports by omnivorous in September, 2010 and toolbear in June, 2010 and in August, 2009. I have uploaded ten new photos of the trail area.
The best place to park and start the bike ride or walk is at Haller Park off Rt. 530 and next to the sewage treatment plant and the Stillaguamish river, just east of the Rt. 9 bridge, at N48.20268, W-122.12914, elev. 239 ft. Toilet facilities, picnic shelter and picnic tables here. From here you can do a 3.3 mi. segment to the north and a short 0.8 mi. ride through town going south. The trail north crosses the Stillaguamish River on the newly decked old RR bridge, from where you can see the confluence of the South Fork and the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River at Twin Rivers Park. Just beyond the bridge is Arlington Junction, where the Whitehorse trail branches off from the Centennial Trail. At the moment, that westernmost section of the WhiteHORSE trail is (as the name implies) designated for horses (of any color), so indicated by a symbolic sign at the trail junction. It is surfaced with an annoyingly loose, coarse layer of rocks that makes riding with a mountain bike very, very cumbersome and would even make it difficult for horses. I tried riding it with a mountain bike and gave up after 0.2 mi. The Centennial Trail, though, all paved for the next three miles, is pure fun riding. It goes past several gravel pits and some restored wetland sites. At 1.26 mi. is a new picnic table. Bryant Lake is a small cattail-lined pond, not accessible. The trail ends unceremoniously at a parking lot at the little hamlet of Bryant at 3.3 mi., N48.23965, W122.15876, 270 ft. elev. There is a construction camp and a sign for the Centennial Trail Phase 2 construction. A short distance on the highway further north is where the trail crosses the road and one can see construction in progress. For now the trail has been covered with straw to minimize erosion by rain and siltation of adjacent wetlands and is not rideable by any means. It will eventually continue to the county line where Skagit County will take over. The main description of the Centennial Trail on the TrailLink web site will have to be updated after that section is finished later in 2011.
Back at Haller Park, you can explore the short 0.8 mi. section of the Centennial Trail southbound through town, adorned by sculptures and murals, parallel to the main thoroughfare with many restaurants and stores on one side and the old RR switching yard (now being torn up) on the other side. The trail ends at N48.19073, W122.12836 under a Rt. 9 bridge. The connection between the two loose ends of the trail has been described previously by others and goes over public roads for several miles. I have not tried that yet by bike but have driven it by car.
Back at Haller Park, you can explore the Eagle Trail downriver on foot, a good place to see eagles feasting on dead salmon in the winter.
In September, 2010 the county formally opened the northern extension of this trail, going 7.2 miles north out of Arlington (from 168th street). The actual "new portion" of the extension is only about 4 miles, the balance having existed along roadways and walkways through town already. Note: this does still not connect to the southern portion of the Centennial Trail, which has its north end at Armar Road/67th Ave.
But the trail goes through central Arlington, passing several active lumber mills and active two gravel pits. It also crosses the old railroad bridge over the Stillaguamish River, ending at Bryant (which is little more than an intersection). And, unlike the southern section of the Centennial Trail, there are numerous coffee shops, eateries and even the Stillaguamish Historical Museum along the route.
The 1.5-mile gap between north and south sections is supposed to be completed along busy 67th Avenue next year, as is a further extension north of Bryant to the Skagit Count link. Snohomish County's website for the Centennial Trail:
They are a' working away on the nine mile extension of the Centennial Trail out of Arlington.
The approach to the Stillaguamish River bridge in Arlington has been cleaned up and blacktopped. The bridge is decked over. Guard rails are under construction.
We intercepted a section of new blacktop at the Lake Armstrong Rd. xing. We then drove up Rt. 9 to see what we could see. Some miles of blacktop are in along the road. Some sections missing.
They appear to be up to the RR crossing on 9 at 271st St NE. At that point it looks like rough grading and there is equipment parked there. Wonder if all the rain has kept the heavy stuff out of the woods till the ground firms up.
We drove to the northern trail head to find new signs, a new gate and not much else going on. This is swamp country. There is a tarn next to the entrance road that put one in mind of Poe - "the dank tarn of Auber in the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."
Will they be done by November 2010? Stay tuned.
Ready to ride the new nine miles.
The Arlington Art Trail – beyond the Centennial
The delightful Centennial Trail ends at the Anmar Trailhead on 67th Ave NE. What about the trail to the north shown on the TrailLink map? ToolBear took GPS and bike and set out to discover what was there.
He found out: not that good a ride. Perhaps someday when the Centennial is extended into town, but not this month.
From Anmar north there is a 1.2 mile gap called 67th Ave. – a busy two lane road with no shoulder. Good luck with the logging trucks. They love bikies. (Really, they do.)
Out of traffic trail riding beings again at the intersection of 67th and Hwy 531 (172nd). GPS: 48d09.127’n x 122d08.422’w. From here to the north, on the east side of 67th Ave is a wide blacktop multipurpose trail that runs two miles northward. You can follow it on Google Earth. On the ground – well, there is no signage on these trails and not much in facilities.
At the intersection of 67th and 204th the nice blacktop trail stops. Across the intersection you go, following 67th around the curve until you see the RR tracks closing in on the right. Unless you like to play in traffic, head up onto the RR embankment. There is a nice and compacted gravel track to the west of the tracks.
Take it north to the Rt. 9 overpass at Lebanon St. Down off the embankment, under the overpass and right there, across Lebanon St., is the start of what TB calls the Arlington Art Trail. GPS: 48d11.436’n x 122d 07.700’w. You can easily follow it on Google Earth.
It’s a nice blacktop track (5/5) with bits of art scattered the length of it. The first thing you hit is the porch glider. Give it a try. The area ahead looks like it was the old Arlington RR Depot with assorted tracks.
Now it is Legion Park (GPS: 48d11.603’N x 122d 07.613’W). Not much for facilities. Parking and picnic, yes. Need a restroom or water, better start looking. However, it’s all you get for an in-town trail head. Dream of the day when the Centennial comes to town and we can do a seamless ride from Snohomish all the way to Arlington for ice cream, beer, food and souvenir T shirts. ( You can do it now. The merchants are standing by. Check out the funky downtown right there.)
From Lebanon St. the trail winds through town for 0.7 miles to end suddenly at the intersection of RR St. and W. Haller Ave. (GPS: 48d 112.054’N x 122d 07.639’W). It’s very hard to get up to speed because of all the street crossings. There is enough cross traffic that running the crossings is a Bad Career Move. Who wants to be a hood ornament?
From the trail end you can head north on RR Ave. to Haller Bridge Park on the river. This can be your northern trail head. Here be parking, water, restrooms and the rest. Enjoy the river right there.
Bottom line: Should you commute to do these bits of trail. Not really. The Centennial – yes!
However, if you just finished the Centennial at Anmar, load the bike in the car, head up to Legion Park in Arlington and go exploring. We are told that the county owns the RR bed up into Darrington, so dream of the day when the rail trails meet in Arlington and we can ride, ride, ride.
Rating on the ToolBear Triple Trail Scale (1-5): Facilities 2, Trailbed 3-5, Scenery 2-4
Centennial Trail – Anmar to Lake Cassidy **** 4 Stars/5
Another fun ride on the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County sandwiched into a shopping trip.
This time ToolBear turned the crew out at 06xx hours and was departing the Anmar Trailhead at the north end of the trail at 0840 - in time to catch the shade and cool morning air on the climb. Plug in the Creative Zen mp3 player, strap on the helmet and go. Bob Segar’s “Fire Inside” is first up.
From Anmar (N48d 08.099 x W122d 08.416, E: 125’) the trail heads south to the Wade Trailhead (N48d 07.641 x W122d 08.236’). Then it begins a steady climb along the west side of the ridge to top out at the Route 9 underpass at 343’. The nice thing about railroad grades is the steady grade. Just find the right gears and go for it. You will find the occasional bench along the way and a picnic table overlook with valley view at N48d 06.090’ x W 122d 07.943’.
The trail from the Route 9 underpass to Lake Cassidy is flattish. You are up on the plateau now. At 84th NE St. you find the answer to how to get trail traffic across a busy road. The trailistas have their very own stop signal/pedestrian crossing.
The trail gates at 84th are not ones ToolBear would run. He walked the bike over with the light. (Check out the picture of logging truck going full bore across the trail. That’s why.) You can stop at the trail head at 84th. It’s one of the lesser ones – gravel parking lot and a portable toilet (N48 04.304 x W122 06.119) . There are better places to stage from.
From 84th, it’s a short hop to Lake Cassidy. They call this a trail head, but not really. Trail heads are accessible by car. Yes, there are two handicap parking spaces there at the lake. These are accessed by a private lane (105 NE Ave.) and there is a gate across the lane beyond the homes, so driving in might be a bit of a problem. Let’s call this a Destination for trail users, and a rather nice one. Smart of them to exclude cars. Can you imagine the keggers at the lake here? With no cars, it’s clean and uncrowded.
Time for a snack and a few pix at the lake, then it’s back down to Anmar to resume trail research on the Arlington end of the Centennial (The in- town trail do not connect yet – Anmar is the north end. See my review.)
Once past the Rt. 9 underpass it’s time to put the hammer down. It’s downhill time. ToolBear has it in 3x8 and is seeing what he can do downhill on the descent. Which seems to be 18-20 mph.
The trail runs in forest. The air is still cool and the trail shady. Der Bear is having fun.
Too soon he is back at Wade Trailhead and then Anmar. Pack up the bike and head up the road to survey the Arlington art trail and that section of 12’ wide blacktop from 172nd to 204th, then off to go shopping.
Today the Centennial is a seamless ride from Snohomish to Anmar. Someday it might be a seamless ride into downtown Arlington - where they can sell you beer and lattes and food. Let us hope. Rumor Mill: A local tells Der Bear that the missing link is tied up in a SEPA review with the state. He also noted that the county owns the rail bed from Arlington up to Darrington. Now, that would be a nice trail. Be nice for Arlington if they were the hub for two trails. $$$
Milage: 6.81 up x 2. Max speed up: 15.1. Average speed up: 9.5. Max speed down: 20.2. Average speed down: 12.7. Bike: SwissBike LX folding mountain bike. GPS: Garmin GPS Map 60 Csx Rider: The ToolBear, a Geezer. Trailbed – all blacktop, appx. 12’, and in excellent condition. Very smooth. A 4 on the 5 scale.
CENTENNAIL TRAIL OF SNOHOMISH COUNTY – MACHAIS TO LAKE CASSIDY AND BACK
This is a fun trail. I give it a 4 of 5. Good blacktop, numerous trail heads and facilities, scenery, well-maintained. You can make a seamless ride from Snohomish up to Anmar Trailhead below Arlington.
Bring up Google Earth and overfly the route. It gets used. Hikers, runners, dog walkers, in-line skaters, skate boarders, baby-pushers, roadies in their suits of light, plain old bikers, kids on BMX bikes, scooter pushers, etc. The only thing I didn’t see was horse traffic – but there is a nice grassy shoulder for them and droppings here and there.
The seven trail heads give you lots of ride options. You can start down at the lower end of the trail in the town of Snohomish at 75’ elevation and climb while heading north. You can start at the upper end at the Anmar Trailhead (125’) and climb while heading south. The height of land appears to be somewhere north of Lake Cassidy and around Rt. 9 at 356’.
I sandwiched an Up and Down from the Machias Trailhead (N47d 58.889’ x W122d 02.926’, Elev 138’)to Lake Cassidy and back into the middle of a shopping expedition. Machias is the primo trailhead on the route and gets a lot of traffic. It has a station building, flushies, water, parking, benches, picnic tables, a rug rat playground, two covered picnic shelters, flower beds, landscaping and more. If you need water, get it here. All the trail heads to the north are waterless.
Heading north you hit these trail heads:
NE 20th Street Trailhead
(N48d 01.028’ x W122d 03.160’, Elev. 213’) gravel parking lot, portapotty, benches.
Highway 92 Underpass Trailhead
(N48d 01.866’ x W122d 03.540’, Elev. 275’) blacktop parking lot, portapotty, picnic table, benches, bike rack. Finding this one is a chore. The trail runs under Hwy. 92. Just to the west of the underpass a cross street (127th NE Dr.) is taken south for a block to the trail head entrance. It’s easy to overrun it. If you cross the trail on 92, heading east, you overshot it.
From here north the trail leaves the homes and industrial areas behind and enters the boonies. Woods on both sides. Next trail head is:
(N48d 03.152’ x W122d 05.015’, Elev. 331’) gravel parking lot, portapotty. It’s at the end of 54th NE Pl. You will need a good GPS or map to sort out these backwoods roads.
Lake Cassidy Trailhead
(N48d 03.152’ X W122d 05.410’, Elev. 323’) no parking seen, boardwalk out to lake shore (views), portapotty, picnic tables, benches, information kiosk. This is a nice spot for lunch. It appears to be a bike-in trailhead. If there was parking, it was well hidden, so don’t plan to stage out of here. You can do that about 1.5 miles north at the trailhead on 84th NE St. – which is a small gravel lot with a portapotty.
This was my turn around point. Time to get back and go shopping. Total miles up: 6.55, max speed: 14.1, average speed: 8.9, moving time: 44 minutes. Downbound, the max speed was 21.1 and the average was 10.7.
Trail Gates … As noted in a previous review, there are gates of heavy pipe where the trail crosses serious roads. All the better to stop you so you can stop, look, listen and live. There are also well-worn by-pass trails around the gates and the obstacles. Your choice. You can be the hood ornament on a pickup or you can luck out. I've done both.
End of Trail … Snohomish County, who should know, as they manage the trail, says it stops at the Anmar Trailhead off 67th NE Ave. below Arlington (N48d 08.099’ X W122d 08.416’, Elev. 189’). The TrailLink map shows it running up to Haller Park on the river in Arlington. Would that it were so, but it ain’t.
There is no rail trail from Anmar up 67th to Arlington. For bikies, 67th is a lethal two lane high speed road with lots of traffic doing 55 mph or better and zero shoulders. If you bail, you are in a real ditch with the briars. If you must do this section, I suggest you call a cab and have him take you to Hwy 531, about 1.2 miles north. Here you will find a bike trail in lieu of a sidewalk on the right side of 67th. We followed this up into town but lost it.
For fun, start at Haller Park on the river (N48d 12.160’ X W122d 07.750’) and work south to see if you can connect the dots. There is an in-town bike trail that goes south from Haller. They have benches, art, murals, and such along the trail. You can see it on Google Earth. Someday they might connect the dots so you can ride from Snohomish to Haller Park in Arlington, but it won’t be soon. However, what they have is a very enjoyable rail trail.
"Centennial trail is a wonderful example of what Rails-to-Trails can, and should, be. The trail is about 17.5 miles long according to my bike computer and is a delightful mix of suburban, rural and forestland with a short section of industrial near Lake Stevens. We usually ride after work in the summer because it is so close to the North Seattle suburbs. Starting at the northern terminus near Arlington, it is a gentle climb for a few miles through forest and hobby farms. Take time to stop at the viewpoints to look out over the Marysville valley area. The trail crests just after going under Highway 9 then remains flat to the Lake Cassidy area. South of the lake the trail begins its long decline to Lake Stevens, Machias and Snohomish.
There are several parking areas along the trail that offer off street parking and easy access to the trail. From north to south; the northern terminus, Lake Stevens, Machias and about 2 miles north of Snohomish. There is also on-street parking in Snohomish at the southern terminus.
The trail is paved the entire way with a wide (about 15’) asphalt center and grass suitable for horses on either side for most of the way. The most heavily traveled cross streets have over- or underpasses and grade crossings have gates to slow the bikers. We regularly ride a tandem that is too long to slalom through the gates, however our singles maneuver the gates without dismounting.
Our favorite activity after riding is to have a meal in Snohomish or Lake Stevens. It is a good reward and both towns are very accessible either by bike or with the bikes on the car rack.
My hat is off to Snohomish County for this trail and the Interurban trail which runs from south of Downtown Everett to the King-Snohomish county line. Good job, guys!
"I rode the trail on 7-19-06 and found it to be quite wonderful. Started at Snohomish and rode the full length and back, about 35 miles. The literature says 16 miles but we passed a 17 mile trail sign about 1/2 before the trail ended so it is about 35 miles round trip. Paved all the way, nice and wide, with no problems. Adequate restrooms and benches along the way. Lake Cassidy is a beautiful stop with picnic tables, restroom and a boardwalk out to the lake. Quite a few people on the trail in the southern half, plus quite a bit of traffic near Snohomish, but from Lake Cassidy north there were few people and well away from traffic noise. Nice quiet nature. This trail is highly recommended now that it is paved all the way. I rate this as 7 on a scale of 10. "
This is a beautiful trail. Mostly newly paved and very smooth and wide with very few users. I have a fast road bike and I loved it. Only caveats:
- at points there are big metal bars which make you come to an almost complete stop at intersections
- the trails ends 6 or so miles short of Arlington right now with no signs on where to go from there.
More cycling route info at www.travelblogs.com/cycling.htm
"Wonderful trail! I have seen salmon swimming in the river, king fishers fishing, and all manor of wildlife from teens on skateboards to a bobcat hunting. I have been on the trail in rain, sun and even a light snow. It is always great. I ride with my mom and she is in her 60's and she finds the trail gentle enough, as well as my neice and nephew, who always find something to inteterest them.
Off the trail a bit are some yummy places to get lunch as well as a yummy ice cream treat. As well as lots of great places for picnics. I have never met anyone rude or grumpy (as if anyone could be after 5 minutes here!) We have taken my Grandmother on walks in her wheelchair and she loves it! "
"This trail is GREAT; its hisory is more interesting as the old Northern Pacific Railway grade. I have a map of it from Snohomish, Washington to Sumas, Washington around 1910."
"Centennial Trail is great all-around trail--good asphalt surface, no major hills, nice and wide, and it even has real bathrooms (at Machias, about 4.5 miles from the top of the trail in Snohomish). Can be well-traveled on nice days, but is wide enough to handle the traffic. Three major parking areas: on the street at the top of the trail; at the first park about 1.5 miles from the top of the trail; and at the aforementioned Machias (which also has a covered picnic area)."
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