Getting Hikers to the Mountains: Trailhead Direct returns for second year with more routes, Little Si added

King County announced this week that Trailhead Direct – the weekend and holiday transit-to-trails bus service – will return Saturday, April 20th with more routes to get hikers to the trails without the need of a car.

The second full season will offer more pick-up sites – including the Tukwila International Blvd Station – with service to more trailheads, including Little Si which joins Mount Si, Teneriffe and Mailbox Peak as drop-off spots for 2019.

King County said Trailhead Direct transported people to more than 10,000 hikes in 2018.

“We’re bringing back Trailhead Direct with more routes to more trails in more communities,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Our popular transit-to-trails service has succeeded in many different ways. We have made our spectacular mountain forests accessible to more people, reduced dangerous overcrowding at popular trailheads, and made it easy to hike without having to drive or park.”

Three of the four routes connect to Sound Transit Link light rail. Transfers between Trailhead Direct routes are easily made at Eastgate Freeway Station, Issaquah Transit Center, and North Bend Park-and-Ride.Hikers can board Trailhead Direct services at four Sound Transit Link light rail stations: Tukwila International Boulevard, University Street, Mount Baker, and Capitol Hill. 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.

King County said it added and modified the service based on customer feedback, saying, “New routes and stops create a better-connected transportation system that offers hikers opportunities to hike from one Trailhead Direct drop-off location to a different pick-up location. The new service design makes it possible to board any Trailhead Direct vehicle to get to any of the designated trailheads.”

The newest route offers service to the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, starting at Sound Transit’s Tukwila International Boulevard Station with stops at Renton Transit Center and Renton Highland. Passengers have the option to continue on to the Issaquah Transit Center where they can transfer to Trailhead Direct routes to additional hikes in the Issaquah Alps, or east to Little Si, Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, and Mailbox Peak.

At Little Si, Washington State Department of Natural Resources worked with King County Parks and Metro to design and construct a new drop-off and pick-up location for Trailhead Direct service.

Trailhead Direct Mailbox Peak route also returns with a much different service design. In 2018, the route started at a satellite parking lot at Twin Falls Middle School. This season, it will start at the Issaquah Transit Center with a stop at the North Bend Park-and-Ride.

Trailhead Direct operates 13-, 17-,19- and 27-seat vehicles. Each vehicle has a rack for either two or three bikes. Passengers can pay with an ORCA card, Transit Go Mobile ticket, or cash with exact change.

More than a 1,000 passengers were polled after last season and asked the main reason for using the service. The top answers were 1) More environmentally friendly than driving; 2) Not owning a car 3) Not having to worry about finding parking at the trailhead.

For more info on Trailhead Direct routes visit www.trailheaddirect.org

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