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Trail coalition seeks White Horse partners

Kathy Biever leads a Mountaineer hike along the White Horse Trail last fall. The White Horse Trail follows the former railroad line from Arlington to Darrington, but is formally opened only six miles from Swede Heaven to Darrington. -
Kathy Biever leads a Mountaineer hike along the White Horse Trail last fall. The White Horse Trail follows the former railroad line from Arlington to Darrington, but is formally opened only six miles from Swede Heaven to Darrington.
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While Snohomish County Parks Department is busily designing the north portion of the Centennial Trail from the Stillaguamish River to the Skagit County line, the pressure is also on to make some progress on the White Horse Trail, which follows the old rail line from downtown Arlington to Darrington.
The recently elected chairperson of the Snohomish-Arlington Trail Coalition, Bea Randall, reports that the coalition has set its goals for 2008 and they include helping to form a sister coalition for the White Horse Trail.
Randall and her husband, Chuck Randall, the former chair of SATC, attended a Darrington Town Council meeting in early February seeking participants in the effort.
They were very excited and glad to see us, Bea Randall said.
Although no one followed up by attending the Feb. 21 SATC board meeting in Arlington.
The SATC board of directors meets monthly at Arlington United Church and they have announced the quarterly general membership meeting starts at 7 p.m., Monday, March 17 at the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, 17750 59th Ave. NE in Arlington.
They are hoping some people from up the valley will join in the effort to help open the White Horse Trail from Arlington to Darrington.
The White Horse Trail has been open from Swede Heaven to Darrington for several years already, thanks to community members who campaigned the county to get it open, including Marv and Joan Kastnings.
Yes, we did help convince the county to get that portion open, said Joan Kastnings.
She said they still go out and walk the trail in the Fortson area, but dont get on their bikes as much anymore.
At 70, the bikes are getting a little rusty, she said.
The six-mile portion of the trail that is open passes along the banks of the Stillaguamish River with glimpses of its namesake, White Horse Mountain. The trail crosses Squire Creek and Boulder River along the way.
I sure hope they get that trail open, Kastnings said when she heard about the effort.
There are so many cyclists riding up and down the valley on their way to and from the North Cascades Pass. I always worry that I am going to see them in the evening news, hit by a truck, Kastnings said.
Snohomish County is working on a plan that will open about six miles from Arlington northeast to the Tin Bridge in Trafton. They brushed it open recently, so it is walkable again. The county owns what was formerly known as the Cloverleaf Golf Course at the end of 115th Street in Trafton, with plans to provide a campground where horse riders and cyclists will be able to camp after riding from Arlington and beyond.
This will leave a gap of about 11 miles in the middle, Randall said. The bulk of the trail from Trafton to Skaglund Hill, just east of Oso, is largely overgrown by blackberries, except where local people manage to keep the vines back enough for their own personal use.
The SATC is seeking people who want to see the White Horse Trail open and functioning. We hope that residents up the valley will form a coalition similar to the SATC to provide support for the trail to Darrington.
Randall has invited anyone interested in the project to attend the March 17 SATC general membership meeting to formulate a strategy.
Along with a discussion on the White Horse Trail, the meeting also will include a report from county officials on the progress of Phase II, from Arlington to the Skagit County line and The Gap, from the 152nd Street Trailhead to 172nd Street, in Arlington, and various other projects, such as tree planting on the Centennial Trail.
The Snohomish-Arlington Trail Coalition was formed in the early 1980s to encourage Snohomish County to acquire the railroad and build the Centennial Trail, which now brags 17 miles of car-free biking and walking and skating from Snohomish almost to Arlington.
The SATC board of directors includes representatives from the different user groups, including equestrians, bicyclists and adjacent property owners, and they offer reports at the membership meetings.
Our son lives in Alaska and they have trails up there that are used all year round, with biking and walking in the summer and snowshoes and cross country skiing in winter, Kastnings said. Trails are good because they give you an alternative to driving everywhere. Its much more healthy, she said.

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