SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Though the Pump House Trail is only about six months old, the Skagit Trail Builders are already setting their sights on lengthening it.
Plans are underway to make the Northern State Recreation Area trail a loop, a project that will be the last major piece of the group’s extensive Northern State Regional Trails Project.
Skagit Trail Builders Executive Director Jim “JT” Taylor said the new trail will complete what he called the “high spots” of what the Northern State Recreation Area has to offer.
“We really feel we have got our optimum use out of this resource, and once we are done with this trail it will be time to move on to our next big project,” he said.
Building a bridge at the trail’s namesake pump house spanning Hill Creek is a major step in starting the loop.
Though a small, hearty group of talented volunteers has got the bridge deck in place, there is plenty to do before hikers can venture across the span, including construction of both approaches as well as rock walls and railings.
Then there’s the matter of routing and eventual construction of the trail itself.
It’s a project Taylor expects to take at least a year or more to complete.
Those interested in volunteering can go to skagittrailbuilders.org for details and to register.
The new bridge is similar to the group’s Dovetail Bridge that spans Hansen Creek and allows access to the SWIFT Center.
This latest bridge uses steel beams found onsite as its stringers. Those beams, once covered in soil and brambles, were lifted into place using a combination of pulleys and webbing.
“It’s just really cool,” Taylor said. “The beams we used, we just moved them from below the pump house and beside the creek where they were actually stacked two high. That saved us a whole bunch of money.”
And it’s a team effort.
“Obviously, along with the trail builders, we are doing a new bridge and a new trail,” said Skagit County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Adams. “After we are done with that, we hope to do some other cool things. There is a lot of stuff going on out there right now.”
Though there is plenty of work to be done, Taylor takes pride in the fact the bridge’s superstructure is in place.
“It’s on its way,” he said. “We still have to build up rock, fill and make it aesthetically pleasing. That’s what’s next.”
And aesthetics mean a lot.
“We are very particular with our rock work, especially in a place like this where he have a historic structure,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be very visible. We want to have long rock walls where you can look at them and there aren’t any imperfections. It just flows with that CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) feel. It’s really an art form that we want here.”
Taylor is excited about what the new path — once completed — will offer.
“This trail is going to be located on a wonderful, tear-drop piece of land,” Taylor said. “It’s like 60 or 70 acres and will run the full length between Hill and Hansen creeks and will go to the north boundary of the area, which happens to be one of the most beautiful. It’s amazing. It feels completely different than anywhere else around here.”
A smaller bridge — wide enough for mountain bikes — will eventually recross Hill Creek and reconnect with the Pump House Trail to complete the loop.
Also in the coming year, a project to install trail signage, including kiosks with maps of the area, is slated to begin.