Let's Roll: Trailhead Direct Service Begins April 20
Trailhead Direct, the popular transit-to-trails service co-led by King County Metro and King County Parks returns April 20 with more routes connecting convenient transit locations to popular trailheads.
The popular Trailhead Direct service — operating weekends and holidays through October — will return April 20th with new stops, service to more trailheads, and a brand-new route, this one starting from the Tukwila International Boulevard lightrail station.
"Washington Trails Association is a proud partner of Trailhead Direct," said WTA's executive director, Jill Simmons. "Transit-to-trails services are key to making our region’s wonderful trails accessible to more people. It also helps trailheads meet the growing number of hikers, without adding more cars to already crowded parking lots. We’re excited Trailhead Direct is back for the 2019 hiking season and are working to ensure it’s an ongoing option for King County hikers."
The new route offers service to the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.
Starting this new route in Tukwila addresses community feedback from south King County residents and makes backcountry trails more accessible to residents living in some of the nation’s most racially diverse communities.
More Options for Car-Free Hiking
The new route opens service at Little Si, as well as the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Hikers will still be able to take Trailhead Direct routes to some of King County’s most popular trails, including Mount Si and Mailbox Peak.
The new routes and stops create a better-connected transportation system. 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. Hikers who take Trailhead Direct from downtown Seattle and Tukwila will arrive at trailheads in less than an hour and will not have to find parking.
Trailhead Direct services are accessible at four Sound Transit Link light rail stations: Tukwila International Boulevard, University Street, Mount Baker, and Capitol Hill, and transfers between the routes can be made easily at the Eastgate Freeway station, the Issaquah Transit Center, and the North Bend Park and Ride.
This means hikers can board using the lightrail station closest to you, then transfer at another hub, increasing your options to access trails car-free. The new service design makes it possible to board any Trailhead Direct vehicle to get to any of the designated trailheads.
Some of the routes Trailhead Direct ran last year have been updated for hiker's convenience. Specifically, Mailbox Peak service returns with a different service design.
Last year it started at the Twin Falls Middle School, requiring hikers to get to North Bend before boarding the shuttle to the trailhead. After processing riders' feedback, a change was implemented to make this route more accessible for more people. This season, the shuttle starts at the Issaquah Transit Center with a stop at the North Bend Park-and-Ride on the way to the popular trailhead.
A little background
Trailhead Direct was created three years ago to meet growing interest in getting outside, and to help people access trails without relying on cars, or needing to seek a parking spot on busy weekends. The service was popular last year, with passengers using Trailhead Direct for more than 10,000 hikes last season, with 60 percent of users taking advantage of the service more than once. Twenty percent of riders took it at least four times.
And people used the service for a variety of reasons. The top reasons: it's more environmentally friendly than driving, hikers not owning a car, and folks not wanting to worry about finding parking at the trailhead.
WTA community members have also enjoyed Trailhead Direct services. Check out the adventures trip reporters went on last year, and don't forget to write a trip report about your experience if you use the service.