The Cabin Creek Trailhead west of Lake Crescent is a link in the Olympic Discovery Trail that would be part of the proposed cross-state trail. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula backs development of cross-state trail system

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County has joined 40 municipalities on both sides of the Cascade Mountains that have backed the development of a cross-state trail system.

County commissioners last week passed a resolution in support of the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the multipurpose John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Eastern Washington.

The 285-mile John Wayne-Iron Horse State Park Trail route traces an abandoned railroad from the western slopes of the Cascades to the Idaho border.

It is the longest rail trail in the nation and is part of a developing cross-state network that includes the Olympic Discovery Trail in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Legislation that was floated in 2015 would have closed a 135-mile section of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, trail advocates said.

“There has been recent discussion of closing a portion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail east of the Columbia River because adjacent landowners have brought forward concerns about ongoing maintenance of the trail,” the Clallam County resolution says.

“The closure of any portion of the trail would impede the possibility of completing a cross-state trail system for recreational purposes, long distance bicycle transportation options, decrease recreational opportunities for citizens and forfeit the right-of-way for any possible future rail transport connection.”

The Olympic Discovery Trail, which will eventually connect Port Townsend to La Push, is recognized as the westward extension of the cross-state trail.

Once completed, the Olympic Discovery Trail will connect to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail via the Sound to Olympics Trail in Kitsap County, Kingston-Edmonds ferry, Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle and Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has backed the development of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, as have cities from Westport to Tekoa.

Port Townsend and Sequim are among the 40 cities that have passed resolutions in support of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.

“It’s a pretty impressive list of cities to step up to support it,” Clallam County Commissioner Randy Johnson said before voting to approve the resolution March 7.

The Clallam County resolution was pitched by Tom Mix of the Peninsula chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington.

“Anything that we can do to support recreation and to support the Olympic Discovery Trail and awareness of that resource I think is important,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.