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Mountains to Sound Trail Before & After – Startlingly Good

We all like to see positive transformations, and oh what a transformation the Mountains to Sound Trail project is… 

Access Road Area - AFTER

Access Road Area - BEFORE

Opening last Saturday with a ribbon cutting and community event led by Mayor Mike McGinn and Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, this new segment of trail is writing a new chapter in the life of the East Duwamish Greenbelt. 

The cutting of the ribbon October 29, 2011 was a joint effort by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust Executive Director Cynthia Welti; Beacon Alliance of Neighbors Representative Craig Thompson; SDOT Project Manager Terry Plumb; and Mayor Mike McGinn

Following the snip of that appropriately “green” ribbon, Mayor McGinn led a tour of the new multi-use Beacon Hill trail that extends from Jose Rizal Bridge west along the south side of I-90 and south along I-5 to the South Holgate Bridge.  The Washington Department of Transportation designed the trail with oversight from SDOT and also managed the construction contractor.  All who participated in the trail tour got a first-hand look at some of the amazing “after” views.  Of course, they are even more compelling when compared to the “before” shots, such as the photos from under the Jose Rizal Bridge, shown directly below.

As mentioned earlier, the before and after pictures are startling, in a good way, showing the effectiveness of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles.  These include natural surveillance allowing people to see and be seen.  To that point, this is the first City of Seattle trail to utilize street lights; placed every 160-feet or so, they illuminate the entire area.  Add to that open fencing and landscaping and this urban forest becomes an accessible and usable neighborhood greenspace.  Features of the new ¾ mile of trail include: 

  • 12 feet wide paved and level surface for walking, biking, and running
  • Fencing along both sides of the trail (fencing to be completed now that configuration for 4.1 acre off-leash area is finalized)

Approaching Bridge - BEFORE

Work along the project area cleared and removed the overgrown blackberry bushes, weeds, and invasive plants which were choking out the natural landscape. Then native plants and grasses were added to this area that is state-owned right-of-way property as well as city-owned land.

Approaching Bridge - AFTER


The new trail provides connections between Beacon Hill and downtown Seattle and the International District via 12th Avenue South, as well as to the SODO district, sports stadiums, and the waterfront via South Holgate Street.  An active volunteer community contributes to the upkeep and preservation of the greenbelt and trail including the SPU Graffiti Rangers, North Beacon Hill Council, Cascade Bicycle Club, City Fruit, Green Seattle Partnership, Beacon Bikes, and Beacon Alliance of Neighbors to name a few.

Before and after photos to the left show the trail area near the Holgate entrance – yet another stunning comparison of how access is greatly improved.

The purpose of this project was to extend the multi-use trail to connect with transit, other trails, and Seattle communities.  It is also part of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.  The majority of funding ($1.8 million) for this $2.58 million project came from the City’s eight-year Pro Parks Levy, which passed in 2000.  WSDOT also provided funds during design.  Then an $810,000 federal grant through the Puget Sound Regional Council made up the remaining difference, allowing construction to move forward.

The Mountains to Sound Trail is part of the larger Mountains to Sound Greenway effort that has helped create 100 miles of trail along I-90 from Central Washington to Seattle.  

Thank you WSDOT for the majority of the photos!

Happy Trails…