Milestone: County gets trail grant
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office presented Clallam County recently with its Bravo Award for its project to reconstruct the historical Spruce Railroad as a trail on the north shore of Lake Crescent.
The county’s project was the top-ranked project in the trails category of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
“This project is a great example of what the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program aims to accomplish,” Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, said. Cottingham’s office administers the statewide grant program. Using a $460,000 grant along with an equal contribution in local funding and donations, Clallam County will reconstruct a half-mile of trail, restore a 96-year-old tunnel and expand a trailhead, both preserving a part of Washington’s history and creating places for new generations to recreate, Cottingham said.
In 1918, the U.S. Army built 36 miles of railroad west of Port Angeles, including two railroad tunnels that were used to deliver spruce for World War I airplanes. The McFee Tunnel was closed by blasting in the 1960s. The blocked tunnel, steep trail, rocky and muddy trail surfaces and poor drainage prevent people using wheelchairs and touring bicyclists from using the trail. Bicyclists are forced to take a dangerous route on U.S. Highway 101 on the south side of the lake.
The county, with cooperation of Olympic National Park staff, will restore the McFee tunnel and trail so it can be used by hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. The work will create a non-motorized trail separated from car traffic on the north shore of Lake Crescent that will connect to 60 miles of trail east of the project site and 20 miles west of the site.