The North Creek Trail section near Bothell is almost ready

People are already riding and hiking 1¼ miles of Snohomish County’s North Creek Regional Trail between Bothell and Mill Creek, which will likely open this summer.

It’s not officially open and contractors are still finishing some work, but pavement and markings are in place.

Once all three phases are complete, cyclists and pedestrians can reach the Interurban Trail south of Everett, the Sammamish River Trail and Burke-Gilman Trail in Bothel.

The project has been in the works for more than a decade.

“We are thrilled with the improvement,” said Snohomish County Engineering Services Design Manager Charlie Green.

The current segment of the county connects to North Creek Parkwhere there is already a trail north across Mill Creek to McCollum Pioneer Park. To the south, trail users can cross the intersection of 208th Street SE and Filbert Road toward Centennial Park, where Bothell completed a section.

County and regional leaders view North Creek Trail as a recreation and transportation benefit. People can use it for a workout or for commuting, away from busy car roads.

“There is a big gap on the map between Bothell and Mill Creek,” Leafline Trails Coalition said project manager Claire Martini. “This North Creek Trail not only helps connect the local community immediately adjacent to this long-planned trail, but it really helps fill in the gaps in a regional trail system.”

Statewide, trails of all kinds contribute an estimated $8.2 billion to the economy, according to State Office of Recreation and Conservation Studies.

But the 2.42 mile county trail The segment, estimated to cost nearly $22.8 million, is years away from completion.

Traffic moves along Filbert Drive alongside pedestrians walking along a new section of the North Creek Regional Trail. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Breaking it down into phases helps the county budget for the job and tackle particularly difficult parts of it.

Phase 1 generally follows the roadway along Filbert Drive, Winesap Road and Sprague Drive SE.

Phase 2 is 0.78 miles from North Creek Park via a greenway to 192nd Street SE and Waxen Road. The estimated cost of this section is $7.6 million.

Phase 3, the last middle section, is a 0.4 mile walk between 20 and 40 feet above the ground. This height is necessary to cross a hilly and steep wooded section and cross the namesake North Creek and its wetlands.

“Looking at North Creek, you’ll feel like you’re in the trees,” said Snohomish County Engineer Doug McCormick.

The county started the first phase last year. Contractor crews started at the southern end of it, just north of the Bothell city limits, and are working along Filbert Drive towards Winesap Road at Sprague Drive SE.

This section crosses some neighborhoods.

A new section of the North Creek Regional Trail.  (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A new section of the North Creek Regional Trail. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Although possibly surrounded by forest or grass, the paved path is similar to the intercity trail. Horses are not permitted on North Creek Trail, but bicycles, roller skates, scooters, skateboards, trainers, walkers, and wheelchairs are welcome.

Most of the county section will be 12 feet wide, enough space for people to comfortably pass in opposite directions or for someone to pass a slower user.

“Trail etiquette applies,” McCormick said.

Snohomish County does not plan to install new bathrooms or water fountains. Both can be found at either end of its trail segments in Centennial and North Creek parks.

There will be parking in addition to the existing on-street parking near the trail. At the south end there will be 12 parking spaces, another 17 along Winesap Road and about 15 spaces at its northern end, McCormick said.

“Somebody could park basically (anywhere) along the road and go north or south,” he said.

People could also take a Community Transit bus to get to the trail.

County staff are seeking a grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council for the second phase. If awarded, construction could begin in 2025. Phase 3 work is more advanced, but county staff hope the federal infrastructure law will bring in money for the parkway.

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