Phase Two of Yelm’s Prairie Line Trail Set to Create Access Across Nisqually River

By Jacob Dimond / jake@yelmonline.com
Posted 7/5/22

The Yelm Prairie Line Trail may receive additional funding to renovate the Nisqually Trestle into a walking and bicycling path that spans across the Nisqually River.

The push for the initial phase …

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Phase Two of Yelm’s Prairie Line Trail Set to Create Access Across Nisqually River

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The Yelm Prairie Line Trail may receive additional funding to renovate the Nisqually Trestle into a walking and bicycling path that spans across the Nisqually River.

The push for the initial phase two portion of the project came to a halt in 2020 after the City of Yelm applied for a recreation and trail grant from the state of Washington. The funding for the grant ran out, so the trail was extended to the Nisqually River, but not across it.

Now with support from the PARC Foundation of Thurston County, the City of Yelm is applying for funds for phase 2B. Phase 2B will complete the initial plans of phase 2, which will see a renovation of the Nisqually Trestle for trail use.

“It will look like the bridge you see today,” Larry Leveen, a volunteer for the PARC Foundation of Thurston County, said. “The only difference is that the tracks and ties will be pulled up and the surface redecked. Additional safety railings will be put up too.”

Leveen said the trail will be open to pedestrians and bicyclists. Work is being done to obtain proper measurements to ensure equestrians and their horses can also safely use the trail.

Aside from the railings made for trail-walkers and bikers, railings will be added at a higher level to keep riders safe from falling into the Nisqually River.

Leveen and the PARC Foundation see the development of the Prairie Line Trail as important since it provides an alternate route across the Nisqually River.



“It’s important for inter-county connectivity. It’s 14 miles to the (Interstate 5) corridor and that’s the only way around the river,” Leveen said. “This is going to be the only alternative besides state Route 507 to get across the Nisqually River in the area.”

The historic Prairie Line Railroad used to run from Kalama on the Columbia River to downtown Tacoma. The City of Yelm owns a 4.8-mile section of the former route, which extends out to McKenna.

The Yelm Prairie Line Trail will eventually play into a cross-state trail concept, according to Leveen. The trail will connect two different Washington state-owned parks. The first trail is known as the Palouse to Cascades Trail, which spans from North Bend to the Idaho border. The second trail is called the Willapa Hills Trail, which spans from Chehalis to South Bend in Pacific County near the coast.

The extension of the Yelm Prairie Line Trail will help connect the two long distance, state owned trails to create a cross-state trail to “fill in the gap,” according to Leveen.

Once phase 2B is complete, phase three of the project will connect the trail to Pierce County. The overall goal of phase three is to connect the Yelm Prairie Line Trail to the rest of Pierce County’s trail systems.

Phase three will be built by Pierce County. The start of the project is expected to begin around 2024, with the completion of the Pierce County expansion in 2026.

For more information about the Yelm Prairie Line Trail project, go online to www.forevergreentrails.org and click on the projects tab, before selecting the Yelm Prairie Line Trail tab.

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