Hikers get sneak peek of the city’s new trail

August 1, 2013

By Dan Aznoff

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Photos by Greg Farrar Above, the remains of an old rusted panel van greet hikers starting out on the May Creek Trail where it begins off the Pipeline Trail south of Southeast 89th Place. At right, May Creek rushes over rocks and through pools at the bottom of the valley where the new trail parallels the stream.

Photos by Greg Farrar
Above, the remains of an old rusted panel van greet hikers starting out on the May Creek Trail where it begins off the Pipeline Trail south of Southeast 89th Place. At right, May Creek rushes over rocks and through pools at the bottom of the valley where the new trail parallels the stream.

Several eager hikers at the Health and Wellness Fair at Lake Boren Park the first weekend of June were given guided tours of the newest portion of the trail system that meanders through the green belts and waterways of Newcastle.

Participants on the preview trek along the 2.8-mile stretch of the May Creek trail were forced to sidestep around piles of small stones and stashes of tools left by volunteers who hope to have the trail ready for its official opening.

“The trail wasn’t completely finished, although most walkers probably did not know the difference,” said Peggy Price, treasurer and work coordinator for the nonprofit Newcastle Trails organization. “Volunteers have been setting pavers in the ground and working on creek crossings for weeks in preparation for the ribbon-cutting. But that has not stopped curious folks from exploring the route on their own.”

Price volunteers her time to groom the trail on Wednesday afternoons and is joined by her son Steve every Saturday. The organization tends 19 trails within the city. The Newcastle Trails group is focused on both the preservation and expansion of trails within the city.

Get involved

The organization website is www.NewcastleTrails.org. More information is available by emailing info@newcastletrails.org. Individuals are encouraged to list their area of interest when communicating with the group.

The newest portion of the trail system can be discovered south of the park by following the Pipeline Trail just across Southeast 89th Place. A small path into the trees about 20 yards from the parking area near the bridge leads to the right, into the forest and under a canopy of mature trees that stand on both sides of the trail. Small signs direct hikers toward the sound of the creek below. Before hikers reach the water, the trail will lead them past the rusted body of an imported panel van with the steering wheel on the right.

 

Spawning grounds

From there, the trail twists down the hillside with sharp drop-offs that alternate from side to side. A large pool created by fallen trees provides the first up-close sight of the actual creek. Hikers on the trail in early June were treated to the sights and smells of native cutthroat trout returning to their spawning grounds. Not surprisingly, the fish attracted an unusual number of birds to the area.

Recent work by the volunteer work crew is evident at the point of the trail where the elevation evens out at the bottom of the valley as the trail parallels the creek. Closer inspection to the surface of the pathway displays hand-built rockeries tucked into the side of the trail and potholes filled with smooth stones.

The rise in elevation is hardly noticeable. Without any notice, the walkway makes a sharp right turn and follows the contour of a fence that shields signs of development when the trees are in full bloom. The trail comes to an abrupt end with the sidewalk on Coal Creek Parkway, across from the entrance to the Windtree development.

A short walk along the esplanade takes hikers back to the parking lot at Lake Boren. The new trail is pet friendly, but hikers should come prepared with their own water supply and poop bags. There are currently no plans for waste disposal along the trail. Bags are available at each end of Lake Boren Park.

If you go

The ‘official’ opening of the newest section of the May Creek trail will be at 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Retaining Pond end of the trail. City officials and members of the trail organization are expected to attend.

Work by the Newcastle organization is being done in cooperation with plans by the city of Bellevue to replace the 45-year-old culvert along Coal Creek Parkway to improve salmon passage. The project includes new vehicle and pedestrian bridges.

Monthly meetings of the Newcastle Trails organization are open to all residents of the surrounding communities. There are no dues. Price emphasized that equestrians are encouraged to have their voices heard in future plans for walking and riding trails.

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