Whitehorse Regional Trail


16 Reviews

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Whitehorse Regional Trail Facts

States: Washington
Counties: Snohomish
Length: 26.6 miles
Trail end points: Centennial Trail north of Haller Bridge (Arlington) and Price St. & Railroad Rd. (Darrington)
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6397038

Whitehorse Regional Trail Description

Closure Notice: Between the Centennial Trail (western endpoint) and the Trafton trailhead and just east of 435th street in Darrington are closed as of September 11th, 2023 due to washouts. See Snohomish County for more current information.

The Whitehorse Regional Trail stretches about 27 miles between Arlington and Darrington, just northeast of Seattle, Washington, along a former BNSF rail line. It parallels the North Fork Stillaguamish River and the SR 530 but also for a majority of the route, trail users are treated to uninterrupted wilderness views. The trail surface is a majority gravel and dirt, be prepared for possibly bumpy, rough surfaces. But in addition to the wilderness terrain, users are treated to scenic views of mountains, streams, forests and rolling farmland. 

At its eastern endpoint, the trail connects to the Centennial Trail in Arlington. 

Parking and Trail Access

There is a small gravel parking lot available at the eastern trailhead in Darrington. At Fortson Mill along Fortson Mill Rd. (off of St. route 350 NE) there is a small lot available. 

See TrailLink map for more detailed directions.

Whitehorse Regional Trail Reviews

white horse trail

Rode the trail from darrington to trafton with a car at both ends on a bluebird day. Blue sky, fall colors, salmon swimming upstream. What a day! Enjoyed the eastern half of the trail a bit more than the western half. It was more wooded and further away from Hwy 530. It was also narrower so difficult to ride abreast. Eastern half is all gravel while western half has several extended paved sections. Don’t know how those decisions were made. Crossed well over a dozen bridges/trestles on the trail. The bridges were slick as snot due to wet leaves so use caution

Whitehorse Trail-Heads Up!!

The trail is closed from a wash out starting in Arlington. We parked in the first designated parking area 11 miles East of Arlington. We headed West towards Arlington to see where it was closed and why. Shortly after starting out we came to an intersection of a county road just before the first highway crossing. We were greeted by a BIG white-possibly Pyrenees Dog which came after us barking, growling and snapping at our legs. The rest of our ride way uneventful but we had to pass the area with the dog to get back to our car. We luckily have electric bikes and when we came back to the area the dog was standing in the middle of the trail. We used our power assist to speed past the dog which came after us but couldn't keep up.

ATVs, Dirt Bikes on Trail

Started in Darrington- made it about 2 1/2 miles West, trail is closed after that point due to a landslide. Trail itself was nice enough, many biting insects despite bug spray, but ran into 3 quads/ATVs and 2 motorized dirt bikes- I’m not sure how they got around/through the large concrete blockades, but it was frustrating to encounter on a trail that they supposedly aren’t allowed on (I was there with horses). Happy to run into cyclists and hikers, less so motorized vehicles.

Great trail, horrible gravel

This old railroad bed goes from Arlington to Darrington. The section that connects to the centennial trail is not open, you have to find a trailhead off of highway 530. This trail has everything going for it, beauty, scenic, 2% max grade, wonderful, wide trail. BUT..the wrong gravel was placed as the surface. The gravel won’t pack and leaves a loose, squirrelly surface that is relatively unpleasant to ride on and is so loud you cannot talk to person next to you. It’s too bad, great trail ruined by the gravel topping. The only good thung about the gravel is you won’t find any other cyclists on it... We rode it with our gravel bikes, 3m tires.


Awesome Hidden Jewel

There was hardly anyone on this trail, so I'm kinda compelled to tell you it was horrible in an attempt to keep it as is and all to myself! (insert hideous laughter). But as the last poster indicated, it is a hidden treasure that is barely used. From Swede Heaven west, it is all packed gravel, and a few paved areas. East it is not maintained, but totally ride-able with a hybrid - don't need mnt-bikes. They made it sound like the trail disappeared or got impassable with "swallowed up by thick forest and dense bogs", but we quickly figured out that is on the sides - not IN the trail - duh! I see that the county has applied for permits to fix the washed out area near Arlington, so maybe that will happen next year! When it does, and if/when they gravel the section between Swede Heaven and Darrington, this will be a totally awesome trail (really, it already is!!!)

Whitehorse Trail: Trafton to Darrington

Whitehorse Trail is essentially open now, but access from the popular Centennial Trail to the rail bridge west of Trafton Trailhead remains closed due to unstable soil. This isolates an otherwise hidden gem of a trail. This means that you can have 23 miles of scenic, gentle rail trail all to yourself, with the possible exception of a few fellow travelers “in the know” and local swimmers and fishers. The trail runs parallel to Oso Slide Memorial Hwy (State Rte 530) and the north fork of the Stillaguamish River. The repurposed former BNSF rail route, disused after 1990, offers solitude just off the highway, lush forest vegetation and an inviting river, a refuge from dappled sun and light rain. There are openings to spectacular views of the river and encircling mountains, abandoned mills, rustic farms and homesteads, and sometimes flashes of wildlife, and beach life. There are several planked or concrete bridges, long straightaways and shallow curves, and two, busy, no-signal highway crossings, but otherwise few notable road crossings. The trail is wide and smooth, freshly resurfaced with fine, coarse gravel suitable for road bikes in the western- and mid-sections. It’s even paved in two places, near lively Twin Bridges and serene Cicero Pond, and fronting the somber Oso Landslide Memorial site. East of the Swede Heaven Rd crossing toward Darrington, the trail narrows and is swallowed up by thick forest and dense bogs. It gets much bumpier or more muddy in season, suitable for mountain bikes. There is an easily passable (though not officially) slide area east of the rodeo and bluegrass music arenas. Nearby is a mountain bike “skills area”. Parking is offered in the mid-section of the trail north of the highway at a paved lot on Fortson Mill Rd, a dirt lot immediately off C-Post Rd, and an extensive pullout at Hazel Hole. Trailheads at Trafton (Kroeze Rd/115th, at Cloverdale Farm) on the west end and Darrington (Price St, past the IGA) to the east offer space for about a half-dozen vehicles each. There are many unnamed pullouts along the highway. Per Snohomish County rules, the multi-use trail is open to bicyclists including class 2 ebikes, hikers and horses only (no motorized vehicles). Hours are 7 am to dusk, pets must be on-leash, no fires, dumping or alcohol, and the trail doesn’t offer latrines, water, or other services at this time

Darrington to Fortson Mill

Nice trail a little bumpy in places and overgrown with grass. The Darrington end starts by the airport and is near the IGA. The trail runs behind the Bluegrass festival grounds which gives great views of Whitehorse mountain. There is a wash out in one section near the river. It’s ok for bikes to ride by, or walk past. The trail is in the woods or in people’s back yards to Fortson Mill. The old mill is off in the woods and there is a parking lot. I went another mile west until there was a bridge marked closed. I had previously tried from the Centennial end, but the landslide still was blocking the trail. Hopefully more will open soon.


Late Summer 2018

TrailBear was not exactly “silent, upon a peak in Darien” when he parked at the twin bridges site (Rt. 530 & RR bridges) on the Whitehorse Trail (48°15'58.29"N x 122° 0'44.53"W).

“OMG, blacktop!” A few yards over, the trail surface was gleaming blacktop. Blacktop! Bear loves blacktop on his trails. Smooth riding. No ruts. Yes! We can do this! The trike came out and TB went spinning over the bridge and down the newly surfaced trail bed.

Smooth, fresh blacktop and dried leaves crunching under the tires. Looking closer, he wondered if he was one of the first riders on this stretch. There were only three tire tracks behind him. All evenly spaced. Might be him.

Was there some association with the construction crew he passed a few miles east where the trail crosses Rt 530 again… They were laying down more blacktop, heading east towards Darrington. Got a ways to go. Encourage them. They expected to be done with the trail project back in 2016. Perhaps 2020 might be the year. A bear can dream.

Regardless, the twin bridges is a lovely spot on the trail. You have a nice railroad bridge, a river with a long view, a beach for the kids and views. Locals are found recreating themselves here all summer.

Go west down the blacktop a bit and there is the Rt. 530 trail crossing – under construction. Wonder how they will do this. The Snohomish Centennial has a ped-controlled stop light at one crossing. This crossing is on a curve to make it sporting.

He managed to pedal across – but he waited and waited for a lull. Those fully loaded logging trucks doing 60 mph suggested caution. No sign of paving continuing west towards Trafton Trailhead. Back in 2016 when he checked out the Trafton Trailhead, he noticed they had laid a serious compacted gravel base heading east from Trafton, so there might be hope that was going to be a blacktop base.

@@@ MAP CHECK … The Whitehorse Trail project map – check it out

Here is the county project map. Currently, it is the best that you can easily put your hands on.


TB really hopes that the map note with a date of 2106 was a typo. You can see that they are doing this and that here and there. They have Phases. Must be a challenge to find all the funding for all the projects that add up to a completed trail.

The finished trail, combined with the excellent Snohomish Centennial Trail that runs from the Snohomish River north through Arlington to the Skagit County border will make this an even more attractive destination for riders.

The old right of way extends north along Rt. 9 in Skagit County and south into King County where it is the Burke-Gilman Trail. There are said to be plans to join the Snohomish to the B-G. Come that day, you can start at the Golden Gardens on Puget Sound and ride up to the Skagit line or cut over to Darrington.

@@@ FORTSON MILL TRAILHEAD … Welcome Wagon not in evidence (48°16'25.43"N 121°43'53.57"W)

TrailBear had such high hopes that morning. He would park at the Fortson Mill Trailhead and take a round trip east to Darrington and back. After all, the official map said this was the only open portion.

His hopes faded when he drove in … to the gate, hefty and well-locked. An official and rather annoyed sign proclaimed that “This Gate is Locked due to illegal dumping.” (Guys, if you are going to do caps, do caps for every word. More stylish.) Among the prohibited items were Alcoholic Beverages and Motor Vehicles. Not the place to party on a Friday night. At least the county hopes so. The gate says so.

Reading that ‘Foot traffic is allowed into the park” he hoofed it down the road to find a vast, empty parking lot in the woods. Great place to dump that old washer or have a kegger on Friday night. No signage.

More wandering about turned up the Fortson mill – now concrete walls with artistic graffiti, a dam and empty log pond and not much more. The trail is due north about 93 yards from the non-parking lot, over the slope and down.

@@@ DARRINGTON TRAIL HEAD … End of the trail (48°15'32.10"N 121°36'16.33"W)

Well, try the official open portion from the other end. Off to Darrington and the trail end on Railroad Ave. Pedal off down the trail and past the Three Rivers Mill. The trail here is gravel, and TrailBear was soon bored. Scrubby, cut over woods, no views, bumping over roots. Boring!

Stop, about face, pedal back. The reality is that from Fortson to Darrington, the Whitehorse is a woods ride. No bridges, no river, no views. TB has ridden the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and other scenic trails, so he is spoiled rotten and feels Entitled.

He wants scenic trails with endless unfolding vistas – an endless Instagram Heaven – not a bunch of scrubby woods. (And, while you’re at it – a rest room every five miles.)

He loaded up and headed back west to his happy discovery of real, fresh blacktop, a bridge and vistas at the twin bridges: “OMG, blacktop!” One happy TrailBear.

Short ride down Whitehorse Trail


Starting at the western end of Whitehorse, branching off the Centennial Trail, I rode about a mile before hitting a landslide blocking the trail. Looking at the tangle of large trees and mud in front of me, I decided I'd rather not try to get past it and risk having the whole mass continue into the river, with me on top of it. So ended my first Whitehorse Trial trip.

The trail in this section has not yet been resurfaced, so it still has the old railroad ballast. It was a little tiring to slog through, but the short section of the trail I did get to ride was quite enjoyable. This looks like it will be a beautiful ride, once they complete the trail.

TRAILBEAR FINDS TRAFTON – A trailhead on the Whitehorse


A bit of web searching and Der Bear came up with a trailhead for the Whitehorse – a former farm out at a place called Trafton. After a morning surveying a trail at Langus Park in Everett, amid the sloughs of the Snohomish River, it was time for a change.

The Whitehorse has been on Der Bear’s radar for several years. He had dreams of Arlington at the crossing of two nice trails, the front street lined with ice cream parlors, beer joints, bike stores and fast food emporiums to serve crowds of lycraed up roadies. (What they do in February is another matter which we shall ignore.)

He kept hoping that the county would get to work on it after finishing the Snohomish Centennial. An article on-line from last year suggested they were doing just that – brushing the trail, decking the bridges, rebuilding the section wiped out in the Oso slide and more. Time for a closer look.
So, off to Trafton, wherever that was.

Finding the Trafton Trailhead is a job for the GPS. Enter 48.231807 x -122.07994 on Google Earth or find 115 Ave. NE east of Arlington. Hint: There are two options for 115 Ave. Heading east from Arlington, you first see a sign for it on the right. Ignore this. Continue on a bit and there is another sign for it on the left. Nothing obvious. No signs.

Take this and head down the road until you see a blue silo on the left. You have arrived. Park inside and there is a sign for the trailhead with all the naughties to avoid.

TrailBear parks at the silo and goes limping off to see the trail. Past the barns, down a slope you can see the trail bed crossing a meadow. Limp down to the trail. To the west is a cleared track heading to the junction with the Snohomish Centennial about four miles off. The bridge on this section has been decked. (TB read the review.)

To the east is a new section of compacted gravel trail bed going out of sight around a curve. Bear loves this. If you can’t get blacktop, this is second best and good riding. Too late in the day to do any riding. Der Bear heads for the van. Time to find a bridge and see if it is decked and open.

Some miles further on both Rt. 530 and the Whitehorse cross the Stillaguamish River. Pull over, park, grab camera and take a look. The RR bridge is decked, has railing and is clear to ride. Last time Der Bear checked it out, it was unimproved. Something really is happening.

Head further east, see two more bridges and both show new railings. Wife wants to see the Oso Slide. We go to Oso. Oso looks quite untouched. Turn around for the day a bit further on. A later check of Google Earth shows the Oso Slide is 3.7 miles east of Oso and further by road. Next time.
They have to build a mile of new trail here.

TrailBear will return and spend the day seeing what they have done with the Whitehorse. Will it be ridable next summer. Stay tuned.

Arlington to Trafton Bridge

I always checkout the access to the Whitehorse Trail from Arlington when we ride the Centennial, and wonder what its like. I was out there last week and finally rode it.

First of all you will need a mountain bike, air the tires down, and lower the post. There is a lot of gravel/ballast and you may need to walk some portions. The first .4 mile is all gravel, then there are a lot of grass or compact soil sections, broken up the the gravel ones. But I did ride the 3 miles to the bridge which is open and decked for bikes. The trail is open as far as I could see there, but I stopped at the bridge.

The county has brushed out the trail, nevertheless there are blackberries growing back in places.

But the trail is beautiful and I'm excited for it to open. This portion follows the river and offers river and mountain views and some limited access to the water. I enjoyed the river and solitude and even saw a pair of deer. Check it out!

Whitehorse - Arlington

The trail has no real changes since the other reviews in 2011. From the Centennial Trail out on Whitehorse the trail only goes about 3.5 miles before it abruptly ends in the back of a farm. It may go further than that, but on a Sunday morning I didn't want to run up into someones back door. The "newly" installed gravel covers about half the trail. It is the wrong type to ever get compacted. It's also just the right size to get caught in your shoes, so you may have to stop and pick it out like I did. That said, this is a very nice flay trail that follows the Stilaguamish River for a large part and is great break from asphalt and concrete.

Whitehorse Trail from Swede Heaven to Darrington

Went back to re-inspect the eastern end of the Whitehorse Trail. It was a little more overgrown than I remember it from last year. The trail surface is quite rideable with a mountain bike or a sturdy street bike. At one place the Stillaguamish North Fork River is nibbling into the steep bank and we are going to lose part of the trail there within a few years. There is some illegal quad ORV activity on the east end of the trail, but actually that moderate motorized vehicle use improves the trail surface somewhat by packing down the gravel and makes it easier to ride.

The Arlington End of the Trail

Now that the extension of the Snohomish Centennial Trail is open from Arlington up to a new trailhead at Bryant, you can access the lower trail end of the Whitehorse just beyond the bridge.

It is signed for horses and with good reason. It is brushed (at least at this end) and there is a 10' trail topped with 1.5" gravel (no fines). The stuff moves with every step. It's like soft sand.

It would be a workout on a mountain bike. I suspect a trike might do better as it would not be shifting all over. After a 100 yrds, I packed it in. I was there to survey the extension.

Give it a try and tell us. A rider with a Surly LHT and 4" tires did the Columbia Plateau Trail in the undeveloped section and that is 2-4" ballast, so it can be done.

Ride on!

Heading back to that nice blacktop Centennial Trail

Whitehorse Trail Explorations, May 2010, by EckartS

Currently only 6 miles on the eastern end between Swede Heaven Rd. and Darrington are open for public use.
There is not much parking space at the current western trail end at the Swede Heaven trail crossing at 48.27593 N, -121.70586 W. Two to four cars would fit on. A sign there reads "Darrington 6 miles". The trail bridge across Moose Cr. has a name sign, but that is currently the only one. The bridge across Squire Creek is much more impressive, but there is no sign to identify the creek. This bridge and another one of the bridges have a nice board along the railing, wide enough to sit on and relax, and would provide bench space for 200 people to sit on. The trail leads mostly through undeveloped second (third) growth forest and is in view of only a few houses, mostly in the proximity of where the trail crosses some residential access roads. The forest canopy is so dense that most of the trail is in the shade and you might even consider riding it on a hot summer day. There are two places where one can step off the trail and walk down to the shore of the river. The second one is after 3.2 miles where the trail crosses an unmarked gravel road that is inviting to ride north for several reasons: 1. immediately to the left is a wide gravel and sand bar along the river (easily seen from the trail) which would be a fun place to go sunbathing and splash in the river on a hot summer day. Judging by the amount of trash left behind, this place is also popular with locals. 2. Continue on the road north ~1/2 mi. to a concrete bridge with a very nice view of the river and another river access point. Also trashed. 3. For the more energetic mountain biker getting bored by riding only flatland trails along abandoned RR grades, the logging roads on the other side of the bridge (M1000) above open a vast network of riding opportunities, first past a (trashed) gravel pit (target shooting) and then further up toward U.S.F.S. Road 18 and Segelsen Ridge. The main roads are in good shape (surface OK for mountain bikes) and offer spectacular views of Whitehorse Mtn. across the valley and other peaks up the Sauk River valley. You should try at least for a 2.5 mi. (5 mi. R.T.) excursion, gaining 400 ft. elevation to a point where it reaches U.S.F.S. Road 18, with the coordinates N48.29307, W-121.68052 for the best views. The bridge and the road up to this point are not yet shown on USGS 1978 maps. This point can also be reached by a logging road from the Swede Heaven road, and, if the map is correct, theoretically one might be able to make a loop of it.
Back on the Whitehorse RR trail, the trail crosses a church camp, goes under the powerline, goes past a sawdust composting operation next to a log storage area, past the Darrington air field and ends unceremoniously next to the IGA grocery store in Darrington at 48.25534 N, -121.60285 W. There is ample parking here, but no trail directional signs or bulletin boards with trail maps.
After the return to the Swede Heaven trail head, one is tempted to explore the continuation of the trail to the west. A first sign states only that this is future trail, banked as part of Snohomish trail planning. Going west, you ride past a road crossing with a fish hatchery, a marshy pond, and the ruins of the Fortson saw mill with a mill pond. The mill pond appears to be popular for fishing. There is car parking at the turnaround of an access road (marked with "Wildlife Viewing Area" along Hwy. 530). Only after a little less than two miles the signs along westbound Whitehorse Trail state that this corridor is currently CLOSED to all public use. At the latest when you get to a crossing with residences guarded by free-running vicious dogs it is time to turn around and postpone further explorations. The map shows a picnic area past the fish hatchery which I should have explored. During a midweek exploration I did not see a single other person on the trail, only a few fishermen at Fortson Mill Pond and a dog walker on the logging road.

For additional information, see

Beautiful Whitehorse Trail

There is some great wildlife viewing along the Whitehorse Trail as you pass the old Fortson Mill Pond. I have seen quite a variety of birds, deer and even a fox once. This is also beautiful in the early summer with wildflowers, lots of Bleeding Heart and Yellow Wood Violet. At several points along the trail there are clearings where you can catch vistas of the mountains and the Stillaguamish River.

The barricades throughout the trail detract from some of the enjoyment, but everything else that it has to offer, I recommend this trail.

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