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Finally! Suiattle River Road to Reopen in Late Fall

Posted by Andrea Imler at Jun 06, 2014 04:00 PM |

Repairs on the Suiattle River Road is scheduled to be completed by late fall. Here's what hikers who want to access the corridor during construction need to know, and a glimpse of what you have to look forward to next year.

More than a decade ago, the first of what would be several powerful storms caused the Suiattle River to swell, surge and smash into the Suiattle River Road (Road 26). The storms destroyed several sections of the road -- and access to a number of gorgeous trails along with it.

Late this fall, after years of advocacy and planning, hikers and trail volunteers will once again be able to drive down the forested corridor to the very end, where they can camp, hike and explore once again. WTA couldn't be more excited.

Set to reopen by the beginning of November, the Suiattle River Road is undergoing extensive construction this summer to fix four major areas on the 23-mile road, including rerouting the road away from the eroded river bank at multiple places along the road, replacing old culverts, building a new bridge over Downey Creek and reestablishing the Huckleberry Mountain trailhead parking lot.

Hiker access to the Suiattle impacted this summer

Due to construction efforts and safety concerns, access to the Suiattle River Road will be impacted at various times during the summer:

Key mileage points along the road

The Suiattle will remain closed to motor vehicles at mile post (MP) 11.6 until the end of construction. This is the same place where the road has been gated since the road washed out.

Non-motorized traffic (hiking, bicycling, horseback riding) is currently allowed beyond the gate from MP 11.6 to MP 20.8. At MP 20.8 crews have begun to clear the road and due to safety concerns, the road beyond MP 20.8 is closed to all public travel weekdays from 7:00am to 5:00pm.

Starting June 9, the temporary footbridge at MP 20.9 (Downey Creek Bridge) will be removed to prepare the area for construction of a new motor vehicle bridge. Without the bridge, hikers and others would need to ford Downey Creek, which is running high from the spring snowmelt. Therefore, all public travel past the junction with the Green Mountain Road (Road 2680) is discouraged beginning June 9.

Rediscovering the Suiattle in 2015's hiking season

What do hikers get to look forward to once the road is reopened?

Seven popular trails will once again be easily accessible to hikers:


Hikers will also be able to stay at two campgrounds, rent the Suiattle Guard Station cabin and access dispersed camping along the Suiattle River Road. Although the schedule to reopen the campgrounds and guard station is still being determined.

While hikers will be eager to hit the trails come November, a word of caution: many of the trails along the Suiattle River Road have not had much maintenance since the road closed in 2003. Hikers will encounter brushy trails and likely downed trees on their adventures until trail maintenance crews can get in and start whipping the trails into shape, which likely won’t begin in earnest until 2015.