Newest part of paved Olympic Discovery Trail network link opens

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The newest portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail through Jefferson County is now open as planning work continues for other sections that will eventually extend the trail across the entire North Olympic Peninsula.

Jefferson County Public Works contractors have just about finished the county’s portion of the work on the Larry Scott Memorial Trail, which is the only completely paved, dedicated section of the larger Olympic Discovery Trail in Jefferson County, said Josh Peters, Jefferson County’s principal transportation planner.

The final 1.3 mile section opened for walkers, bikers, runners and horseback riders in December, Peters said.

The paved Larry Scott Trail now stretches 7.3 miles from the newly opened trailhead on Milo Curry Road to the Port Townsend Boat Haven, Peters said, and is a key stretch of the Olympic Discovery Trail in Jefferson County.

Peters said the Peninsula Trails Coalition is taking the lead on planning the portion of the trail from Milo Curry Road to the trailhead known as Four Corners Crossing.

The completed portions of the Olympic Discovery Trail in Clallam County include stretches running from just east of Blyn west to a bridge over the Elwha River, Clallam County Transportation Program Manager Rich James said, and a 6.5 mile portion at Lake Crescent that ends near the Sol Duc entrance into Olympic National Park.

For the Larry Scott trail, Peters said contractors still have to work to do on a parking area designed for horse trailers at the Milo Curry trailhead, expected to be finished this spring, though 10 standard parking spaces are ready for use now.

Port Townsend-based Seton Construction is completing the work on this stretch of the Larry Scott trail under a $135,625 contract with Jefferson County Public Works, Peters said, half of which was funded through a state recreation grant.

The entire Larry Scott Trail, in the works since the early 1990s, is the largest existing portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail in Jefferson County, said Jeff Selby, Jefferson County vice president of the Peninsula Trails Coalition, a volunteer group working closely with both Clallam and Jefferson county governments to complete the planned 126-mile Olympic Discovery Trail.

Selby and Peters agreed the next challenge for trail planners in Jefferson County will be how to wind the trail from the Milo Curry trailhead to the Four Corners Road intersection with state Highway 20 and eventually down the hill to Discovery Bay.

“That’s basically the next big puzzle to solve,” Peters said.

Selby said a proposed route the Peninsula Trails Association is working with now is leading the trail south through the existing trails in Lake Anderson State Park and descending the slope roughly parallel to state Highway 20, though Selby said negotiating the steep grade in the area could be an issue.

“To bring the trail there down to Discovery Bay will probably be the most challenging topographically,” Selby said.

Peters said the trails coalition is taking the lead on planning this portion of the trail.

Once the trail traverses Highway 20, either across it or under it, Selby said it would then most likely climb the hill just west of Discovery Bay using an old railroad grade until it gets to Old Gardiner Road, which it would follow roughly eight miles to the Jefferson/Clallam county line.

Before it heads back up the hill to the west, the trail would have to negotiate the tip of Discovery Bay, Peters said, adding that Jefferson County has requested two state recreation grants to fund both planning and construction of the trail in that area.

Peters said he has high hopes for the $110,000 planning grant being awarded, which would fund efforts including surveying and environmental investigation, cost estimation, and outreach to area landowners concerning use of private easements or rights of way.

“The planning money we should get, barring something unexpected from the legislature,” Peters said.

Jefferson County also submitted a $500,000 request to construct a 1,980-foot path running parallel to Highway 101 just west of Discovery Bay, and Peter said he will hear if either or both requests are granted later this year.

Selby and Chuck Preble, the Clallam County vice president of the Peninsula Trails Coalition, said coalition volunteers in both counties are also actively seeking grants and private donations to help complete the Olympic Discovery Trail link between the two counties, including $40,000 raised for trail design work in the Discovery Bay area.

From the county line near Diamond Point Road, Selby said the next completed portion of the trail ends about a half-mile east of Blyn within the Jamestown S’Klallam Reservation.

Annette Nesse, chief operations officer for the Jameston S’Klallam tribe, said the tribe submitted a $715,100 grant request for a new trail portion last summer to the state Department of Transportation and is expecting to hear if the request has been accepted some time this year.

The grant, if awarded, would fund the planning for and construction of a roughly two-mile paved trail set to run along tribal lands from just east of the tribal campus in Blyn east to Diamond Point Road.

This proposed two-mile portion would be the longest of the existing three Olympic Discovery Trail sections already running across tribal lands, Nesse said.

James said Olympic Discovery Trail segments are also in the planning stages for the Joyce area, sections which would eventually connect with already completed portions around Lake Crescent, near which a 1.5-mile portion will be extended up Fairholm Hill.

Paving work is also planned this year on a 6.5-mile gravel trail running parallel to the Sol Duc River, James added.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 20. 2013 5:52PM
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