The city of Stanwood sits on a little sweet spot of earth, next to a rich estuary where two rivers meet the sea, with views of mountains all around.
There are few places where you can see the city’s heritage as a riverfront town, but that is changing with the Port Susan Trail — a 5-mile looped trail network planned to roll out in five stages.
The first phase along the south side of Highway 532 is usable while finishing touches are in process. The second phase is in the design stage, and the rest is planned to be constructed through 2030. All told, it’s estimated to cost $3.8 million.
“The idea is that we’d have a trail that would loop around the downtown area,” said Community Development Director Patricia Love. “People like looped trails.”
Port Susan Trail provides opportunities to develop educational aspects with interpretive signage and to show off the heritage of the farmland and historic riverfront, City Administrator Jennifer Ferguson said.
When completed, the Port Susan Trail will encircle all of lower Stanwood, west of Pioneer Highway. It includes views of mountains, river, farmlands, dikes and estuaries.
It even shows off the wastewater treatment facility. While it’s not glamorous, it’s an important part of the city infrastructure that ensures the environment is protected by having a top-notch system, Ferguson said.
By popular demand
In 2019, the city conducted a community survey to get feedback from Stanwood and Camano residents regarding city services. The highest-ranking priorities were to improve transportation infrastructure and parks and recreation. Residents gave high priority to hiking and biking trails and waterfront parks.
This starts to meet the council’s goals of developing outdoor recreational opportunities and trails along the waterfront, Ferguson said.
The trail is meant to create an enjoyable walking experience with pedestrian plazas, viewpoints, benches and educational interpretive signs. People using the trail will be able to access downtown at 92nd Avenue.
Phase 1 is wrapping up. The trail atop the new flood berm along Highway 532 is already walkable between 88th and 92nd avenues, with views of farmland, Camano Island, the Olympics and wastewater treatment lagoons reflecting the big, wide sky. Landscaping has begun. The city will celebrate with a ribbon-cutting June 25.
Phase 2 will have two sections to extend Phase 1 both east and west.
Together, the two phases will run from the 88th Avenue Park and Ride to the future Hamilton Landing Park, a stretch of 1.2 miles with Cascade and Olympic mountain views and parking at each end.
Last May, the city signed a $245,000 contract with Confluence Environmental to begin Phase 2 design after the city was appropriated $435,000 from the state. Other consultants are also working on various aspects of the project, from geotechnical to permitting, Ferguson said.
The state budget includes money for Phase 2, still in process.
“We don’t know the number until the governor signs,” Ferguson said of the funding.
Phase 2 starts at the 88th Avenue Park and Ride and runs up to the berm trail. Phase 2 continues on the west end of the berm trail to loop around the wastewater treatment plant, using a public works maintenance road below the lagoon berm. Public works will still be able to access the road, Love said.
At the lagoon’s southeast corner, plans call for the Stillaguamish River Overlook, a place to rest and view river, birds, mountains and wildlife.
If budget allows, the trail will leave the maintenance road and meander northwest through a wetland on a boardwalk to Hamilton Landing Park. The trail continues to the Boy Scout overlook behind Mission Motors. It is a good place to watch wildlife as the zis a ba estuary project goes back to its native state.
Hamilton Landing Park will be a destination on the Port Susan Trail, with access to the river and a view of zis a ba where wildlife is thriving.
Plans are progressing to develop this waterfront park on 2 acres at 26810 98th Ave. NW at the base of the iconic smokestack next to the Stillaguamish River. Plans include two boat launches, parking for cars and boat trailers, a walking trail, bench and interpretive signs.
The historic Hamilton tower will be a park feature and continue to be bedecked with lights for holidays.
The $3.8 million Port Susan Trail is a complex project to manage over many years.
Phase 1 cost about $500,000. Phase 2 is estimated at $730,000.
The city isn’t counting on government appropriations, but is going after grants to help cover costs. The city is also tapping real estate excise tax dollars and using its resources wisely, Ferguson said.
It’s an example of investing in the community and improving the quality of life for residents and visitors, Ferguson said.
“It’s ambitious,” Love said. "It’s going to be great."