Chelan PUD agrees to new trails in Chelan River’s Reach One

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Over the years the most often asked question by visitors at the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce was, “Where can I go for a hike?”

The problem wasn’t that there weren’t some nice hikes in the Valley, but most of them, outside of Riverwalk Park, required drive time.

On Monday, June 25, the PUD Commissioner meeting, the staff outlined plans to permit the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance to build 2.3 miles of new trail above the Chelan River that will run off the existing trail that was built as a part of the FERC Relicensing requirement.

Lower Reach One Trail Plan

The two new trail loops in Chelan River Reach 1 will be done in Phases. The red line will be Phase 1 and constructed in 2019 and the yellow line is Phase 2 which is slated to be constructed in 2020. 

It has taken a long time to reach this agreement. Hiking and biking trails were requested in the Chelan River Reach during relicensing efforts as a part of the Recreation component by the Recreation Forum.

Guy Evans of the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance and Mayor Mike Cooney entered into agreements with the Chelan County PUD regarding trail construction, trail maintenance and liability.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance and the City of Chelan, along with the staff at the Chelan County PUD for recognizing the importance of providing new trail opportunities close to town.

Mayor Mike Cooney stated that the PUD staff made a presentation to the PUD commission, giving a history of the Chelan River Reach and the hurdles that had been put up in the past. PUD CEO Steve Wright asked for a presentation to keep the Commission in the loop.

Phase 1 of the Reach 1 extension off the existing trail will run along the river giving hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers a new opportunity closer to Chelan.

“Basically, the Trails Alliance will maintain the trails and the City will take on the liability and maintenance agreement,” said Cooney. One of Cooney’s arguments is that visitors to the Lake Chelan community are looking for trails and trail maps. “This is a start,” added Cooney. The group is still working on an Elephant’s Head loop that would connect to the Reach Trails.

Phase One (outlined in Red on the Map) will begin in 2019 with Phase Two (Yellow Loop) coming in 2020, however, there are still some hoops to go through.

“We need about $10,000 and will be looking for donations,” said Cooney who plans on donating to the work.

Guy Evans, who has been diligent in pushing forward on this vision said, “It was kind of expected… a bit of a formality. Steve Wright (PUD CEO) wanted to bring the board in.”

IMG_5376

The Phase 1 trail will travel adjacent to , but no closer than
20 feet from the Chelan River
.

Evans said a lot of work is ahead before the trail can even begin to be constructed. The Trails Alliance and City will receive a conditional use permit from the PUD as soon as they have conducted a SEPA review, a Chelan County Shoreline Review and a Cultural Resources review by a qualified archaeologist. “There is a lot of work ahead of us,” said Evans.

When constructed, the two loops will be open to hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers.

The Trails Alliance will be required to provide trail signage and will be responsible trail construction typical of the trail construction at the Echo Ridge Recreation area utilizing a mini excavator and manual volunteer labor.

Interested in getting involved?  Email the Trails Alliance at: info@lakechelantrails.org.

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