Metro Transit routes getting hikers out there

Metro Transit routes getting hikers out there

Trailhead Direct – the weekend and holiday transit-to-trails service of King County Metro and King County Parks – returned April 20 with more routes connecting hikers to more backcountry trails.

For the second full season of the service, more pickup sites have been added – including the Tukwila International Boulevard Station – with trips to more trailheads, including Little Si near North Bend and the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Hikers will again be able to take Trailhead Direct to some of King County’s most popular trails, including Mount Si and Mailbox Peak.

“We’re bringing back Trailhead Direct with more routes to more trails in more communities,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Our popular transit-to-trails service has succeeded in many different ways. We have made our spectacular mountain forests accessible to more people, reduced dangerous overcrowding at popular trailheads, and made it easy to hike without having to drive or park.”

Hikers will be able to board Trailhead Direct services at four Sound Transit Link light rail stations–Tukwila, University Street, Mount Baker, and Capitol Hill. All four routes are connected to transit hubs, including the Issaquah Transit Center, the Eastgate Freeway Station in Bellevue, and the North Bend Park-and-Ride.

Trailhead Direct started in 2017 as a single-route pilot project and expanded in 2018 with additional funding from the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Other sponsors included REI Co-op and Cliff Bar, which helped fund outreach and promotion.

The pilot project was in response to dangerous overcrowding at popular trailhead parking lots, which frequently exceed their capacity during spring and summer weekends and holidays.

The service also makes the region’s mountain forests accessible to more people who either prefer to take transit or do not have access otherwise. Starting a new route in Tukwila addresses community feedback from south King County residents and makes backcountry trails more accessible to residents who live in some of the nation’s most racially diverse communities, officials said.

Hikers who take Trailhead Direct from downtown Seattle and Tukwila will arrive at trailheads in less than an hour, Metro officials said.

The newest route offers service to the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, starting at Sound Transit’s Tukwila International Boulevard Station with stops at Renton Transit Center and Renton Highland. Passengers have the option to continue to the Issaquah Transit Center, where they can transfer to Trailhead Direct routes to additional hikes in the Issaquah Alps, or east to Little Si, Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, and Mailbox Peak.

At Little Si, the state Department of Natural Resources worked with King County Parks and Metro to build a new drop-off and pickup location for Trailhead Direct service.

The Trailhead Direct vehicles are 13, 17, 19 and 27-seaters. Each vehicle has a rack for two or three bikes. Passengers pay Metro’s standard $2.75 fare. Passengers can pay with an ORCA card, Transit Go Mobile ticket, or cash with exact change.

Dogs may ride at the discretion of the operator under Metro’s guidelines. Passengers with larger, non-service dogs may need to pay an additional fare.