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.