Notes from Newcastle: Newcastle Trails at 15

October 3, 2014

By Contributor

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Garry Kampen

This year is the 20th anniversary of Newcastle, a small city that ranks high in livability, and the 15th anniversary of Newcastle Trails, a nonprofit citizens group that has worked for parks, trails and open space, in close cooperation with the city, since 1999.

I’m writing to celebrate Newcastle’s amazing and still-growing trail system, and to encourage you to explore it and enjoy it. Check NT’s website, www.newcastletrails.org; download our latest map and trail guide; join NT by emailing info@newcastletrails.org (for trail news, no dues); attend our Oct. 6 board meeting (7 p.m. at Regency Newcastle); and consider volunteering for the board, or lending a hand with trail work, computer work (GIS, web, writing), lobbying, fundraising — whatever you’d like to do.

Newcastle’s trails are part of a regional network used by walkers, joggers, cyclists and equestrians. The city lies within a Grand Loop, a triangle of trail corridors with its base on the existing Lake Washington Trail (future Eastside Rail Trail) and its apex in Cougar Mountain.

The sides of the triangle are the May Creek Greenway (mostly in Newcastle) and the Coal Creek section of the Mountains to Sound Greenway (mostly in Bellevue). The triangle is crossed north-to-south by Coal Creek Parkway (continuous sidewalks) and the heavily used Waterline Trail (few sidewalks, many trees), with downtown Newcastle and Lake Boren Park sandwiched between.

You can walk the loop and its cross-trails now, with two exceptions: Renton’s May Creek Trail (partly complete, bridge needed), and the parkway underpass for the Coal Creek Trail (due soon). The Grand Loop is mostly wooded nature trails: The May Creek and Coal Creek trails include creeks, waterfalls, bridges, historic sites and sections of an old railroad; the Terrace Trail has switchbacks, lovely rock steps, views, fallen trees and giant moss-covered boulders. The Marshall’s Hill and Red Town trails (in Cougar Mountain Wilderness Park) link wilderness trails with the remains of Old Newcastle and its coal mines.

The west-to-east CrossTown Trail is Newcastle’s major urban trail (nature trails and sidewalks), a central connector linking schools, parks, neighborhoods and north-south trails. It starts near 116th Avenue Southeast and Newcastle Way, and winds past or through Hazelwood Elementary School, Hazelwood Park, Donegal Park, the historic Newcastle Cemetery and Lake Boren Park, continuing on sidewalks to Beit Tikvah and, after a gap, southeast along the DeLeo Wall (woods, views) from Newcastle Vista to Cougar Mountain.

Fall projects include new trail signs citywide, and changes to the CrossTown Trail: rerouting it at the new middle school and the planned Renton School District Newcastle development (between Olympus and Hazelwood), and rebuilding sections of trail between Newcastle Vista and Cougar Mountain.

Newcastle’s trail system has benefited from the cooperation of many groups, including Renton, Bellevue, King County and the Issaquah Alps Trails Club (check their websites for trail maps and guided walks). Volunteers were also essential. Much of the trail work was done by Boy Scouts, and parents, from Newcastle’s Hazelwood Troop, and other troops from Bellevue, Kirkland and Renton.

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