PORT ANGELES — A section of the Olympic Discovery Trail is nearing completion on the east end of the Olympic Peninsula, Rich James, Clallam County Public Works transportation program manager, said at a Port Angeles Business Association meeting Tuesday.
While plans to finish the trail on the east end, connecting Clallam and Jefferson counties, are still in the works, the ODT segment at the head of Discovery Bay is in the advanced planning stages and about to go to construction.
Feasibility studies sponsored by Jefferson County are just beginning for the ODT’s Eaglemount section. A timeline for that segment is not yet established, according to Jeff Bohman, Peninsula Trails Coalition president.
There are already 8 miles of the trail that start in Port Townsend, and remaining construction would fill in the 12 remaining miles needed in the county, James said.
The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe has a project set that would connect the eastern border of Clallam County to the Blyn area.
From Blyn, only 2 of the 26.4 miles to Port Angeles are temporary, on-road or gravel trail.
The focus is now also turning toward connecting the west end of the county where much of the trail has yet to be constructed, he said.
A crucial 2-mile section of the trail west of Fairholme hill toward the Littleton Horse Camp near Mount Muller is slated to be finished this month, James said.
The trail will cross U.S. Highway 101 to make the connection. A section of trail on the north side of Lake Crescent is currently closed from the Lyre River trailhead to the 450-foot McFee Tunnel for trail improvements.
A half-mile section of trail will be widened to about 12 feet — and the historic tunnel restored — as part of a multi-year effort to incorporate the Spruce Railroad Trail into the Olympic Discovery Trail system.
“When we get done, we hope to produce a very similar appearance [to the original tunnel],” James said.
The county is now looking toward filling a portion of the gap between Port Angeles and Joyce along a 2.2-mile segment. James said everyone who lives along that section is welcoming the trail, making it easier to move forward.
“When we first went out there, we didn’t know how accepting that community would be with having the trail coming through,” James said.
In working with the U.S. Forrest Service, the county plans to “completely restore and repave” East Beach Road from Highway 101 to the trailhead — a 4-mile project.
A $1.8 million grant from the Federal Lands Access Program and a $250,000 grant from Clallam County are funding the project, which is scheduled to be finished in 2017.
“The surface is very rough, narrow and not at all safe,” he said.
As the trail moves forward, James said it’s also important to look at the bigger picture, which includes connecting into the cross-state trail system.
Plans include connecting with one of Kitsap County’s proposed trails that would connect Discovery Bay to the Kingston and Bainbridge ferry terminals.
“We call it the western leg of the cross-state trail system,” James said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.