Patchwork Trail across the Olympic Peninsula Adds another Piece with SCJ’s Help

The “Olympic Discovery Trail” is its official name, but its nickname, “the pathway to the Pacific,” might be more revealing.

Nearly 30 years ago, three young cyclists came up with an idea to create a non-motorized trail crossing the width of the Olympic Peninsula from the Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean. For decades, teams of people have patched it together piece by piece, and SCJ worked with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to ready the newest section which opened the summer of 2017.

“People have been working together to make this trail a reality for a long time,” SCJ Engineering Manager Dan Ireland said. “We’re proud to contribute to a goal so many different groups are invested in.”

SCJ provided consulting services for this new portion of the trail on behalf of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe near Blyn, Wash.

“In the same way the larger trail has taken teams of people from different organizations to make it work, our work on this portion took teams from across our firm,” Dan said. “We had people in our Lacey, Wenatchee, and Seattle offices working together on everything from environmental assessments to transportation design and construction documentation.”

SCJ designed the preliminary plans, construction plans, landscaping plan, biological assessment, wetland delineation, wetland mitigation plan, permitting, and construction inspection and documentation for the project.

“Our goal was to improve wetland and buffer conditions along the trail system and to protect the wetlands from long-term trail use impacts,” said Lisa Palazzi, certified professional soil and wetland scientist for SCJ.

With her team’s analysis and recommendations, the design team took the next steps. They incorporated multiple elements into their design to minimize environmental impacts including oversized culverts for surface water flows, boardwalks through wetlands areas, and a pedestrian bridge over a creek.

“What’s cool is this regional trail system has been planned and built in stages over the past 29 years, and every new section represents a culmination of years of work from volunteers and landowners,” Lisa said. “Our work here is another step on the path.”

When all the pieces are in place, Washington’s Olympic Discovery Trail will span over 120 miles beginning in Port Townsend and passing through the cities of Sequim, Port Angeles and Forks to arrive on the Pacific coast near LaPush.

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