While Seattleites, for the most part, aren’t driving their cars to work, there are a few activities that make giving up that Subaru Outback a little daunting. That includes venturing out on our gorgeous area hiking trails.
Trailhead Direct, a shuttle bus that moves hikers between Seattle transit centers and various trailheads along Interstate 90 on weekends and holidays, aims to make driving way less necessary for an avid hiker. For 2019, the program has expanded to include another pick-up—Tukwila International Boulevard Station, with stops in Renton and Issaquah—heading to a new destination, Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. (We just named this park one of the best hiking areas for beginners.)
This is in addition to the two continuing routes from previous years: One route runs from the Mount Baker station to trailheads in the Issaquah Alps like Poo Poo Point. A second route runs from the Capitol Hill station to Little Si, Mount Si, and Mount Teneriffe. Both make a few extra stops along the way to pick up passengers at park and rides or other central locations. Hikers that get picked up in Tukwila or Renton can transfer to these routes at the Issaquah Transit Center—which is also a pick-up point for a special route to Mailbox Peak. Other transfers are available at Eastgate Freeway Station and the North Bend Park and Ride.
Service for all the routes starts April 20 and will run until the end of October. Full schedules are available on King County’s website.
Interest in trails goes hand-in-hand with an investment in sustainability—passenger vehicles being responsible for around half of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, parking around the trailheads can fill up really fast for everyone but the earliest birds.
The service first started running in August 2017 to help reduce congestion and illegal parking along the Issaquah trailheads, and it turned out to be popular enough to return for another year. That popularity only grew; the shuttle served 10,000 round trips in 2018, after the service expanded using Seattle Transportation Benefit District funds. The service is a private/public partnership between King County Metro, the Seattle Department of Transportation, REI, the Mountaineers, and others.