Introducing Seattle Transit Hikers

by ERIC FEIVESON

Hoh Rain Forest (Wikimedia)

Over the years, the Seattle Transit Blog has done several posts on hiking Puget Sound by bus. Some of the amazing hiking trips posted on the blog include Point RobertsWallace FallsShaw Island and Friday Harbor, and the Olympic mountains. There have even been several links posted offering suggestions for transit hikes across the greater Seattle area.

As I read through the amazing list of Seattle transit hikes, one of the problems that always bugged me was how to actually go out and do them. After all, for people that aren’t used to riding transit, or aren’t used to riding transit except to work and back, taking a bus to a remote trailhead you have never been to before without a car can seem downright scary. I can still recall my first bus trip to Tiger Mountain and how, halfway through the hike, I suddenly felt cut off from civilization because I didn’t have a car parked at the trailhead, even though the bus ran every half hour and I had hours to get back before the last one.

Thinking about this, I decided that the best way to get new users to overcome the inevitable anxiety of bus hiking for the first time is to do so in the context of a group. Since all the Seattle hiking groups I know about drive or carpool to trailheads, I decided to create my own meetup group that would focus on transit-accessible hikes which would allow the group to ride the bus together to and from trailheads. The group is called the Seattle Transit Hikers and our first meetup is scheduled for January 6, when we will hike from the UW campus to downtown Seattle.

I plan to lead a hike with this group every 2-3 weeks, during which, we will explore the numerous transit-accessible trails in the region. Some of the destinations I have in mind for the coming months include Discovery Park, Carkeek Park, St. Edwards State Park, Couger, Squak, and Tiger Mountain, as well as numerous trails through the city of Bellevue. If there is interest, I may also consider some more ambitious trips, such as Mt. Si, Anacortes, perhaps even an overnight camping trip on Whidbey Island.

I am also looking for volunteers to lead hikes so I don’t have to lead them all. If any of you are interested, please let me know. The group already more than I ever expected – 62 members signed up in just 3 days! I think it’s going to be a great success.

Comments

  1. saly says

    Thanks you for posting on this topic. it’s interesting. when I’ve lived in Capitol Hill, I rarely ever drove my car, but thought that I still ‘needed’ it to be able to go on hikes and stuff during the weekend.
    now that I moved to WS though,it might be a little more difficult since the bus to get to my house doesn’t run on Sundays.
    I look forward to hearing more and thanks for the links to past hiking trips!

    • Eric Feiveson says

      Once the water taxi starts running on weekends again, I plan on scheduling a hike from Alki to Lincoln Park, taking the water taxi out one way and RapidRide C back the other way. I’m not sure where exactly in West Seattle you live, but perhaps you’ll be able to join us right out of your house!

  2. says

    A bus hiking group is a great idea! I’m the author of the hike metro website – I hope it will be helpful for planning your adventures.

    • Eric Feiveson says

      I looked into doing some hikes up there – perhaps Deception Pass State park. When I last checked, though, Sunday had no service and Saturday, the connection at Mt. Vernon is completely mistimed (the bus leaves the station 5 minutes before Amtrak arrives and the next one doesn’t come until two hours later). I may attempt to do this, though, on a rare weekday when I’m work, or find someone who has a more flexible schedule than I do to lead it.

      Do you have any suggestions for good hikes up there that are doable on a Saturday schedule?

      • says

        Eric,

        Sorry for the late response. I do think that if you’re coming from Seattle, going up to Deception Pass & Anacortes through WSF Mukilteo-Clinton & Island Transit Routes 1 (http://islandtransit.org//routes.php/4/?mrnid=4 – scroll down) & 411W (http://islandtransit.org//routes.php/6/?mrnid=6 – scroll down) & 4 (http://islandtransit.org//routes.php/19/?mrnid=19) may work. I know it’s at least two bus runs on Whidbey Island alone but they do exist.

        I also have to say one of the reasons why I watched the Veteran’s Day flyovers from Burlington Hill up in Skagit instead of going down to Oak Harbor’s 1st Vet’s Day parade is because of the anemic weekend transit up here in NW Washington State. But certainly I do recommend transit hikes and I intend to as much as possible on my winter aviation vacation to Seattle to use transit and foot power as much as possible.

        Perhaps I need to write something up on GrowlerNoise.com tomorrow about NAS Whidbey aircraft spotting sites available from Island Transit and a quick hike…

      • Eric Feiveson says

        Ah, I see – you’re proposing going the other way. I might look into that, although it’s apparently a 2-hour bus ride from Clinton, plus the ferry ride, plus another 2 hours to get from Seattle to Mukilteo, which is starting to look like a bit much.

        I did think of one possible itinerary, though that could make Deception Pass work on a Saturday with a little bit less travel time. We could take the morning Amtrak train to Mt. Vernon at 9:15, then do a mini hike around Mt. Vernon during the 2 hours before the 11:10 bus to Deception Pass shows up. I was thinking Little Mountain would be a good thing to do for this, although a short cab ride may be required to get it to fit within the allotted schedule. At 11:10, we would take the 411W to Deception Pass. We would then have just under 3 hours at Deception Pass before taking the 2:30 411W bus back to Mt. Vernon in time to catch the 3:25 Amtrak bus back to Seattle.

        Have you taken any of these buses before? Do you think it would work?

      • says

        I haven’t done Amtrak buses except as replacements for the Amtrak Cascades. I use Greyhound and preferably Airporter for busing to Seattle.

        That said, I recommend planning a cab out to Little Mountain and back. I know a good cab company – A Better Cab – with vans that could accommodate a small group.

        Let me know, I think you’ve got a good plan.

        BTW, here’s some great NAS Whidbey spotting sites: http://www.growlernoise.com/2013/01/navy-league-tomorrow.html

      • asdf says

        That sounds like a great idea. An 2-mile van ride split across 8 people ought to be dirt cheap. I think I’ll explore that option and see if I can get a hike scheduled sometime in February.

  3. Brent says

    Thanks for instigating this awesome idea! Meetups involving watching fellow bloggers get inebriated, while listening to speeches from politicians, is not my idea of fun, and tends to happen during my work hours. It’s important work (not the getting inebriated part), but hikes may draw a lot more people than the transit-planning-detailitis wonks, not to mention they are more family-friendly.

    The SiTH webpage mentions a limit on the number of people in the hike. (Always 20 there can be, never more, never less.) Has that changed for tomorrow?

    Also, is the plan to have a meetup on the 42 something you are involved with?

    • Eric Feiveson says

      I changed my mind and decided to get rid of the person limit on tomorrow’s hike. Anyone who wants to come can come.

    • Eric Feiveson says

      Unfortunately, I will not be able to able to lead a goodbye 42 hike because it only runs on weekdays when I have to work. But there are several hikes in the 42 corridor involving Mt. Baker and Seward Park that I plan on leading in the not-to-distant future, although they will all make use of Link, not the #42 bus.

    • Mike Orr says

      The 42 meetup is a separate STB event. It will involve riding the 42 on or around its last day. I don’t think there’s a need to walk the 42 corridor. There are other corridors to walk, and the next on my list is Linden from 155th to 130th.

  4. RossB says

    I don’t if you have done so already, but I would mention this on nwhikers.net. This is a good time of year to do this sort of thing. The hikes you mentioned are pretty much the only types of hikes available this time of year unless you want to deal with substantial snow.

  5. RossB says

    Oh, I should have mentioned that when I hiked in Europe, this was the only type of hiking I did. I really didn’t want to mess with a car. Fortunately, just about all of their trailheads are accessible by public transportation.

  6. says

    You definitely need to put a travel guide together, collect all the details of the trips and write a bit about each. Then sell as a published book (paperback or Kindle)

  7. Matthew Johnson says

    This sounds like a lot of fun… someday when there isn’t a SEAHAWKS PLAYOFF GAME! :p

    Thanks for putting this together, I hope I can catch a later one.

  8. says

    Huh… I didn’t know the “Issaquah Alps” were easily accessible on transit. When I’ve been up that way I’ve gone on bike, which involves some… significant pre-hike (or pre-run in my case) climbing.

    One hike y’all should consider, less for its hiking interest than from a “I was there before” perspective, is the Kirkland Corridor Trail. It’s long enough to spend a few hours out there and has transit connections at several points along its length. I’m not sure if it’s legal or safe to follow to transit-rich parts of Bellevue but you can go all the way from South Kirkland P&R to the Totem Lake area.

    • says

      Another sort of interesting place from the perspective of local history is some of the areas near SeaTac where apparently street grids were planned but no houses built (they’d be subject to really awful flight noise). North of the airport is North SeaTac park; south of there it’s more closed off (maybe because of the jail) but the Des Moines Creek Trail is pretty nice. Merely looking at the area on satellite imagery is thought-provoking.

      • Mike Orr says

        The houses were torn down, I think my friend in SeaTac said. The Port bought out the homeowners as part of a settlement. His own house, which is from the 1950s, has soundproof windows which the Port installed. The house is across the street from the SeaTac Community Center, a building in a huge grassy field, which I gather was part of the land that houses were cleared from.

        By the way, the area has awful bus service. A peak-only bus to TIB, if it still exists. Around a 40-minute walk of rolling hills, so not bicycle friendly. It’s a shorter walk to the 124, and that hourly bus on Des Moines Memorial Drive if it still exists. The nearest supermarket is straight west in Burien, but no bus to get to it.

      • says

        Oh, yeah, I forgot how little transit there is down there. I just biked there today (through a lot of the areas I mentioned) and though I often wasn’t on major transit corridors I think I saw one bus south of downtown the whole ride and none south of the Seattle city limits.

        The airport is really a huge impact — in size, as a gap in the urban fabric, it’s as big as two Green Lakes or two Discovery Parks, but then it’s even bigger because of the areas in the flight path that are almost completely abandoned (in the heart of the flight path there’s nothing from 128th to 208th where the jail is, basically a 5-mile strip dedicated to takeoffs and landings). And then there’s a wider impact because of the concentration of freeways going to the airport, most of which are not only hard to cross, but occupy the best transportation corridors in an area where good transportation corridors are hard to come by.

      • says

        Hm… actually, on a second look, the 132 (on Memorial Drive, to Burien, South Park, the industrial district, downtown), 128 (to TIBS, White Center, Alaska Junction), and 124 (maybe the fast way downtown?) are all half-hourly now. They’re all a bit of a walk, but the area seems reasonably well connected for its sparseness.

        What’s really ugly is the local street network just east of 24th. Parts of it probably wouldn’t be too hard to punch through for pedestrian connectivity, but it’s just really haphazard.

      • Orv says

        The area between the Des Moines Creek Trail and 216th Street was a built-up subdivision at one time, but the properties were bought out and torn down by the Port of Seattle. You can still see driveway cuts along 216th Street and the occasional disconnected power transformer where buildings used to be. The Port and the City of Des Moines had a plan recently to redevelop the area as light industrial, but the primary tenant (PSE) dropped out so that doesn’t look like it’ll happen.

        Unfortunately, other than the branch of the Des Moines Creek Trail that meets 216th, that whole area is fenced off and posted. I think the police occasionally use it for training. It’d be interesting to explore otherwise, in a sort of “Life After People” way.

    • David B. says

      Re: the Issaquah Alps, I’ve taken the bus to Factoria, walked to the start of the Coal Creek trail, followed that to the Red Town trailhead for Cougar Mountain, then taken various parts of the Cougar Mountain trail system to the trailhead on SR900, then walked a mile or so along the road to the Issaquah transit center and caught a bus back into the city.

      That’s more hiking through suburbia and along roads than I prefer, but it is doable, and it’s the sort of 1-way hike you can really only do via transit.

      • Eric Feiveson says

        We’re doing the reverse of this next Sunday, starting in Issaquah and ending up in Factoria. Thanks to the recent SR-900 construction, the Issaquah portion of the trip is much safer than it was a few years ago. And if you take the proper route, the amount of road walking needed around Issaquah is much less than a mile and a good chunk of this road is even closed to cars, making the road effectively a wide, paved trail.

  9. Breadbaker says

    The feeling you had was something that hit us last weekend, when we were climbing Rangitoto Island, a 600 year old volcano in Auckland Harbor. The ferry ran only a certain number of runs and it was a lovely, sunny Saturday, meaning that a lot of locals had shown up (it being between Christmas and New Year’s when nearly everyone in New Zealand was on vacation). So, although we could easily have waited for the last ferry, we sort of hurried to make sure we had plenty of time before a much earlier ferry to get back. Of course, since we were leaving for home the next day, we couldn’t take the chance of being stranded.

  10. Charles says

    I like transit excursions. The plans you’ve outlined are a bit more strenuous than I can deal with. I’d like to suggest a some shorter less grade dependent outings for people not quite as spry, like starting at one end of Ravenna park through it’s ravine (downhill) to the other end of the park. Taking an excursion to North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls and strolling around or something like the transit hike I took last spring to the Des Moines trail. http://transcendentwheels.blogspot.com/2012/05/transit-hike-may-19-2012.html

    • Eric Feiveson says

      I chose some more strenuous hikes to better match my personal interests, but there is no reason why the group can’t offer easier hikes as well. Ravenna Park, Green Lake, and Lake Washington Blvd. between I-90 and Seward Park are all excellent examples of transit-accessible hikes that are almost completely flat.

      If you’re interested in doing one of this, I highly recommend volunteering to lead one. Please send me an e-mail if you’re interested.

  11. says

    Eric, this is very cool! We started a free website about 4 years ago that helps folks Find, Plan and Share outdoor adventures using low carbon modes of transit, http://www.transitandtrails.org. The site is focused on the SF Bay Area, but have been up to Seattle and done a few local trips – http://www.transitandtrails.org/find/seattle

    Here is one we did a few years ago – http://www.transitandtrails.org/trips/34

    I lead car less runs, hikes, backpacking trips and adventures all over the Bay Area. Was just out today for a 18 mile hike up Mt. Diablo, http://www.transitandtrails.org/trips/9.

    Email me if you are interested in learning more. It is really easy to put your hikes up on the site, then you can share with more folks. We had 100k visitors to the site last year.

    Have fun tomorrow. Next time I’m up your way, I’ll join for one of the hikes.

    Ryan

  12. AlexKven says

    There is the interurban trail, with the north end at the south end of interurban avenue in Tukwila, and the south end in Pierce County (aka, the transit black hole).

    • Orv says

      I used to bike the Interurban Trail a lot. It’s nice for biking because, being a rail grade, it’s quite flat; but I think it’d be kind of boring to hike. Large chunks of it are a power line right-of-way, which means no trees, and in the Kent/Auburn area there’s not much to see other than the backsides of warehouses. Some of the connected trails, like the Green River Trail and the Puget Power Trail, are nice, though.

  13. Becky Edmonds says

    Thanks for creating this! I can’t make it this week but I would love to in the future, and I hope women show up for meetups!

  14. Kathy says

    Kubota Garden and/or the Chief Sealth Trail near Rainier Link Station or Metro 106 for short city hike.



You may want to read our comment policy.