Clallam County at work on easements for section of Olympic Discovery Trail west of Port Angeles

Commissioners today will consider a 0.1-acre, $1,300 easement with a landowner.

PORT ANGELES — With parts of the Olympic Discovery Trail under construction and others being planned, Clallam County has begun a series of easement purchases to build another trail segment west of Port Angeles.

The three commissioners today will consider a 0.1-acre, $1,300 perpetual easement with a private landowner, one of many needed to build out the paved trail between Freshwater Bay and Camp Hayden roads.

Commissioners on Monday previewed a 0.42-acre, $6,105 proposed easement in the same area. Board approval of that purchase is expected next week.

“There are a considerable number of parcels that we have between the two roads,” said County Engineer Ross Tyler, who provided the board with a map of the area east of Joyce.

“As we go ahead and pick these parcels off,” he added, “it’s always interesting for me to know where we’re at in the whole scheme of things.”

Much of the Olympic Discovery Trail route between Freshwater Bay and Camp Hayden roads will be along Onella Road, an old railroad grade north of state Highway 112.

Camp Hayden Road is about 2.5 miles west of Freshwater Bay Road.

One by one, the easements needed to connect the two county roads will be presented to the board. Tyler said it would likely take the remainder of this year to complete the purchases.

Meanwhile, crews are working this summer to bridge a 2.5-mile gap in the Olympic Discovery Trail between Lake Crescent and the Sol Duc Valley.

Clallam County last month awarded a $757,233 contract to Jordan Excavating to link six miles of completed trail near the lake to 8.5-miles of existing trail in the Sol Duc Valley.

At Lake Crescent, Clallam County and the National Park Service are working together on a multi-year effort to reconstruct the iconic Spruce Railroad Trail.

Two historic railroad tunnels on the north shore of the lake will be used as part of the paved and widened trail.

Construction began last year on the east section of the Spruce Railroad Trail.

“Once we get this connection through the tunnels around the lake, that’s going to be a very scenic and significant destination,” Tyler said. “We need to begin to market that.”

The Olympic Discovery Trail, or ODT, will eventually connect Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean, spanning nearly 150 miles between Port Townsend and La Push.

Most of Clallam County’s share of the trail from the Elwha River to the Jefferson County line is already finished.

Given the various stages of the trail’s westward expansion, Commissioner Mark Ozias suggested that the road department provide a general update on the ODT after the new commissioner takes office in January.

Randy Johnson and Ron Richards are vying to fill the seat being vacated by long-time Commissioner Mike Chapman, who is running for state representative.

“I think it will be really helpful for us, and for the public, to sort of step back for a moment and get a sense of the big picture,” Ozias said.

Tyler agreed, noting that each land purchase requires board approval.

“I believe that’s a very good idea,” Tyler told Ozias.

“The detail, it’s a lot to comprehend. Probably an annual update at this point wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.”

Said Ozias: “In addition to being helpful for us, I think that’s a valuable service to the public, too, to remind us all of what an asset that [trail] is.”

“And it gives us something to look forward to,” Ozias added. “So I think it would be awesome.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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