By Chris Hendrickson, Special to the Monitor
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is inviting people to enjoy a preview of the new off-road vehicle trails at Reiter Foothills State Forest.
The all-terrain vehicle trails have been closed since 2009 due to environmental concerns stemming from trail overuse and unmonitored access.
The Reiter Foothills test ride dates for both the single-track motorcycle trails and the 4 x 4 challenge course are: Feb. 9 and 17 and March 9 and 24. Test rides will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; however, there is limited parking and riders could be turned away until parking becomes available.
Test rides are dependent on favorable weather conditions, so verify that there are no closures before heading to the trails. Go to: http://tinyurl.com/reitertestrides to check for any weather closures and to obtain maps of the riding area.
There are approximately 1900 lineal feet of 4 x 4 trails open for testing and approximately two miles of single-track motorcycle trails. Riders will have the opportunity to give feedback by completing a survey, and the input will be given to the department’s trail development team.
The new trails are based on a comprehensive recreation plan developed by the department in 2010. The trails have been strategically designed to lessen environmental harm. One of the ways they’ve been able to do this is by utilizing rock for a more sustainable trail design. Also an important factor in trail design has been soil moisture, the impact of water, and how it affects trail integrity. This area of Reiter Foothills Forest gets over 100 inches of precipitation in a year.
The parking areas are along the Deer Flats Mainline Road, just outside of Gold Bar. All test ride participants will need to have a Discover Pass displayed in the vehicle or risk a $100 penalty. A one-year pass is $30, single-day passes are $10. The Discover Passes are now transferrable between two vehicles, but may only be used for one vehicle at a time. For information on purchasing your Discover Pass, you can go to: www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
With the staggered construction of the trail systems, it is difficult to determine when the trails will be complete and officially open to the public. Ted Jackson, Sultan resident, has been a long-time advocate for Reiter Foothills, served on the advisory board, and has worked extensively to secure funding for the project. He stated that, during the last focus group meeting, they discussed the possibility of some of the motorized trails opening on a limited basis starting this summer.
“They would only be open on the weekends, and during the week the trail-construction work would continue,” said Jackson.
This would be contingent on the department securing some fulltime employees to staff the education office.
The Reiter Foothills focus group meetings are held every fourth Wednesday of the month in the Snohomish County Building at 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett, in the East Public Meeting Room. They are open to the public.
Future plans for Reiter Foothills include completion of the motorized trails, along with a non-motorized trail system. The non-motorized trail areas will include equestrian trails, mountain biking areas and hiking trails. Construction on the non-motorized areas will begin this spring.