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Whitehorse trail gets brushed

This corridor is closed to all public use. The former railroad bed between Trafton and Cicero is not open officially, but Snohomish County Parks has been removing the brush as part of its maintenance program. The Tin Bridge between Trafton and Arlington has planks now, and the trail between Swede Heaven Road and Darrington has been open for several years thanks to a campaign by area residents. - Sarah Arney
This corridor is closed to all public use. The former railroad bed between Trafton and Cicero is not open officially, but Snohomish County Parks has been removing the brush as part of its maintenance program. The Tin Bridge between Trafton and Arlington has planks now, and the trail between Swede Heaven Road and Darrington has been open for several years thanks to a campaign by area residents.
— image credit: Sarah Arney

Julie Kirschenbaum is very excited about the potential of the Whitehorse Trail — so excited she volunteered to represent the future trail from Arlington to Darrington on the Trail Coalition of Snohomish County.

Kirschenbaum is the mother of three kids, ages 13, 11 and 10, who are all anxious to get out there and ride their bikes on the trail.

“It’s going to be so great to have access to town,” Kirschenbaum said. “You can’t ride on Highway 530.” She worries when she sees kids riding on the highway with cars traveling at 60 mph.

They live on SR 530 between 127th and 139th avenues. Both side roads provide access to the old railroad bed that the county has been brushing recently.

“The brushing is simply maintenance,” said Marc Krandel, planning manager for Snohomish County Parks.

“The trail isn’t open yet.”

So says the signs at every intersection: “This corridor is closed to public use.”

Nonetheless, Kirschenbaum and her family, like many residents along the former railroad, do take walks on the trail.

“That section of the trail has been open all along,” she said. “The farmers have used it to transport their equipment.” Other parts of the trail however have been overwhelmed by blackberries and small alder trees. The brushing project is to keep the growth under control until the County Parks department can do more work to open it officially. But now, County Parks is busy finalizing permits to move forward on Phase II of the Centennial Trail north of Arlington with plans to finish that before opening the Whitehorse Trail.

Kirschenbaum grew up in Monroe, riding bikes on narrow country roads.

“It will be so great to be able to ride to the Trafton Store, or even into town,” Kirschenbaum said. “It won’t be long before we can ride all the way to Seatac.”

She mentioned one last gap between Snohomish and Bothell where the Snohomish County trail has potential to link with an elaborate urban trail system. She hopes that someday the Whitehorse might get paved, although county parks officials have said the Whitehorse Trail will be a rustic trail and will not be paved.

Kirschenbaum said she first learned about the Trail Coalition in The Arlington Times about a year ago and attended the meeting because she was interested in the access provided by public trail systems.

“I had been walking on the Centennial Trail when my kids were at piano practice.” She said their piano teacher lives on the edge of that trail and had told her they waited for 20 years and their kids grew up before the trail was done.

Kirschenbaum also noted that the trail provides a pleasant way to walk down to the river where there is a public access off 127th Avenue.

“We go swimming there in the summer.” With the recent brushing of the trail, now they will be able to walk the other direction to Cicero to swim under the bridge.

“I haven’t owned a bike since high school, but I am getting ready to buy a bike with all terrain tires,” Kirschenbaum said.

“It is just so exciting, it will be a real asset for the community. I am excited for everyone from Arlington to Darrington to have access to this trail,” she said.

The next meeting of the Centennial Trail Coalition of Snohomish County starts 7 p.m. Monday, March 16 in the Community Room of the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, 17750 59th Ave. N.E., Arlington.

“Tom Teigen will give update on both the Whitehorse Trail and Centennial Trail Phase II,” Krandel said.

The Trail Coalition is looking for volunteers to help with the Boy Scout Clean-Up Day May 2. The coalition is also campaigning to the federal government for stimulus funds to finish the gap on the Centennial Trail from 152nd to 172nd streets, at the south edge of Arlington.

For information about the Trail Coalition call Bea Randall at 360-435-3892 or e-mail her at kinzu@aol.com.

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