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Sneak peeks available as Foothills Trail expansion nears completion

A new section of the Foothills National Recreation Trail is open. By the end of the year, people will be able to follow the trail from Puyallup to the White River in Buckley. A ceremony celebrating the opening of the section is planned for Saturday (May 19) at Veterans Park in South Prairie.
A new section of the Foothills National Recreation Trail is open. By the end of the year, people will be able to follow the trail from Puyallup to the White River in Buckley. A ceremony celebrating the opening of the section is planned for Saturday (May 19) at Veterans Park in South Prairie. chill@bycraighill.com

A trail linking Puyallup and Buckley is not quite complete, but trail users can get a sneak peek.

Cyclists, walkers, joggers, skaters and other users are already exploring a new stretch of the Foothills Trail between South Prairie and Buckley. The paved is scheduled to be complete Dec. 31 at which time it will run 21 miles from Puyallup’s Van Lierop’s Bulb Farm to the White River in Buckley.

Currently, a 2.2-mile section of new trail beyond South Prairie is open. The trail ends abruptly, fenced off to keep traffic away from ongoing construction. A section of completed trail can also be accessed from the Buckley side.

A short section of the trail known as the Switchback Bridge still needs to be complete to link the trail, said Theresa Turpin, capital projects manager for Pierce County Parks and Recreation. A bridge destroyed by a wind storm is being replaced by a 51-foot culvert with retaining walls. The culvert has been installed, but the walls are not yet complete, Turpin said. When the walls are finished, the park will need weather conducive to paving the trail in order to complete the project.

“If the weather is uncooperative, I believe Parks will open it up with a gravel surface,” Turpin said.

Work is also planned to remove moss from the trail. Moss makes the trail slippery in some spots beyond South Prairie.

Turpin said a section of old trail in Buckley was repaved and a root barrier was added to prevent roots from ruining the trail.

A grand opening ceremony is planned for the spring. Trail advocates hope the trail will continue to grow. A bridge over the White River could link the trail with a section in Enumclaw. Advocates also hope the trail will eventually link to Tacoma and Thurston County.

The Foothills Trail can already be easily linked to the 6-mile Sumner Link and 4.3-mile Puyallup Riverwalk trails.

A 1.4-mile section of the trail closed for three months has reopened, Turpin said. The closure between the East Puyallup Trailhead and N. 96th Street was necessary so Puget Sound Energy could install a 230-kilovolt transmission line.

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