Methow Trails working to link many parcels
Methow Trails is quietly making progress on putting together a recreational trail corridor that would connect Twisp and Winthrop by way of the Methow Valley School District campus.
In a recent update, Methow Trails — which took the organizational lead on the project in August 2019 — reported that it has received permission from property owners to potentially cross about 36 acres within the trail corridor. The parcels represent about 4 linear miles of trail, and as Methow Trails reported, “while not all of these segments are linked up, it still represents a significant portion of the roughly 10 miles we anticipate building.”
The project has been dubbed the “TWiN Trail,” for Twisp-to-Winthrop, and is intended to accommodate hiking, running or biking on a non-motorized route.
Methow Trails has received several substantial private donations to support the development and construction of the trail, the organization reported. And this year, all donations made to Methow Trails during the Give Methow campaign (which continues through October) will support the TWiN Trail.
Erika Kercher Halm, Methow Trails’ outreach and access manager, said in an interview last week that the organization began with a broad outreach to property owners within the trail corridor, which sticks to the west side of Highway 20 to avoid the necessity for river crossings, and east of the rugged highlands near Elbow Coulee.
After letters went out, Methow Trails began to contact property owners individually, neighborhood by neighborhood. More than 150 property owners may eventually be contacted.
“The response has generally been really positive,” Halm said. “And quite a few folks have reached out to us. The vast majority are willing or even excited to have it cross their property.”
Halm said Methow Trails hopes to make the TWiN Trail “as straight a shot as possible,” but it may meander a bit depending on property easements that can be obtained.
Halm said Methow Trails’ long history of operating an extensive trail system that crossed many private properties gives it some credibility in dealing with property owners. Currently, Methow Trails works with about 175 landowners to keep its trail system contiguous and open year-round.
“It’s consistent with how we operate,” she said. “It [the proposed trail] needs to be seen as an asset to landowners. It’s helpful that we have that history and legacy. The way this is going to happen is by person-to-person outreach.”
Methow Trails conducted a community survey to gauge interest in future trail projects in late 2018. The No. 1 priority, according to survey respondents: a trail connection between Twisp and Winthrop.
Methow Trails envisions a route that is family-friendly, generally level enough to be widely accessible, bike-commuter friendly and direct enough to be a reasonable alternative to driving, and that makes the school complex part of the equation.
In addition to private landowners, Methow Trails is reaching out to the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
There will be plenty of ways for the community to get involved as the project progresses, Halm said. “We’ll be looking for a lot of community help,” she said.
Methow Trails Executive Director James DeSalvo told the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce last week that the organization will start construction on the trail “as soon as we have a section to build.”