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Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition

Trail Line News

Read our most recent edition here (December 2023)! You can also access older editions of the Trail Line News here.

Trail Line News Archive


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  • Saturday, December 16, 2023 3:47 PM | John Paine (Administrator)

    We will hold an election on January 25, 2024 to elect new board members. Get to know the candidates here!

    David Lee

    My wife Carla (61) and I (71) live in Tacoma and are proud parents of four children, two daughters and identical twin sons. We've been fit and active all our lives and among our many interests, cycling and travel are two of our favorites and we've supported and cycled the Foothills Trails for a long time. We've cycled the Pacific Coast Bike Route from Tacoma to Santa Barbara, the Coeur d'Alene Bike Trail, and many other regional bike trails in Washington, Oregon, and California.

    We’re also avid backpackers having trekked the 380 km John Muir Trail (Yosemite to Mt. Whitney), the 67 km Timberline Trail (Mt. Hood), and the 153 km Wonderland Trail (Mt. Rainier) twice. Now we're planning a 1250 km cycling journey from the headwaters of the Rhine River in the Swiss Alps downstream to Amsterdam next summer.

    Our volunteering stints include living in Costa Rica, teaching English in Argentina, Ukraine as Peace Corps Volunteers, and at Baan Chivit Mai (Swedish-run NGO providing housing & education to hill tribe children) in Chiangrai, Northern Thailand.

    Audrey Pitigliano

    I’ve lived in Pierce County all my life from childhood in Steilacoom, to my home in Puyallup since the early 1980’s. My first love and college degree was in Recreation from WSU. I was thrilled when I first heard about the idea to convert the railway and periodically used and supported the trail as it got developed and I have loved every addition.

    I worked in Buckley since the early 1980’s and often used the trail during my lunch break or with clients for recreational pursuits. I retired in 2020 and biking, hiking, and walking on the trails was a life saver during COVID and continues to be in my retirement.

    I am running for a spot on the FTC Board to help support and sustain all the hard work that has already been done, and to advance more safe connections to our trails/parks across Pierce County. I look forward to using my skills to advocate for equal access to recreational opportunities and programs within the trail system, for persons of all ages, genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, and physical/cognitive abilities.

    Victoria Lincoln

    I’m a lifelong resident of Pierce County and very supportive of projects like this Trail that get people outdoors. I have a degree from Evergreen State College and spent most of my career in Olympia, advocating for local governments in front of the Legislature. It would be a pleasure to be able to serve on this Board and hope my experience in state government can be useful.

    The Foothills Trail is one of the jewels of Pierce County. One of my favorite things to do is to ride the Trail on my mountain bike. It’s amazing how many people I see enjoying it – walkers, runners, bikes, skateboards, and strollers, to name a few. I’ve even seen a unicycle along the trail on more than one occasion. It’s gratifying to see the community embrace the trail and all it has to offer.

    John Hopkins

    I left London, England in my early 20’s to visit my sister in Anchorage, Alaska and ended up staying 15 years. I became an electrician, met my wife and had three children. It was a rags to riches to rags story that ended with us all driving down the Alcan Highway in a brown station wagon with suitcases strapped to the top. We ended up in Puyallup and started an electrical construction company.

    All went well until the last recession, but closing the business was a blessing in disguise. It freed up time for treks and climbs throughout the world and to give back to the community. I joined the boards of Arts Downtown and Pierce Conservation District and now serve on multiple committees with other organizations. I currently work with the Foothills Coalition in my position of Chair of Friends of the Riverwalk and founder of the All Along the Riverwalk Arts and Education event, which has successfully showcased our local trails. I would be honored to become a Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition board member.

    Robin Partington (running for reelection)

    My late husband Don Partington and I first became involved with the Foothills Trail Coalition in 1987 when we volunteered to help staff the Coalition's booth at the Washington State Fair, accompanied by our then-six month old son, Daniel. Dan is now 35 with a six month old daughter of his own who will soon experience the joy of trails from a jogging stroller.

    I enthusiastically support and use urban, rural and wilderness trails. I look forward to working with the Board to further the Coalition's mission in support of trails and trail users. As a Board member, I have been helping with the capital campaign for the Foothills Trails Doc Tait Pavilion in Buckley, where Dr. Douglas "Doc" Tait founded the Foothills Tails-to-Trails Coalition and where the first mile of the Foothills Trail was completed.

    Steve Brown (running for reelection)

    I've been involved with the Foothills Trail as a volunteer for over 30 years (over half my lifetime). Lately, I have focused on county connections: Foothills Trail north to Sumner and then the Interurban; Yelm to Roy; and of course our favorite, from Mount Rainier to Tacoma using the R2R route.

    I also have been spending a lot more time in the Carbon Canyon, which is everything above the town of Wilkeson. It is a great area for hiking, biking, fishing and camping. This is also the access to the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park.

  • Thursday, October 19, 2023 11:49 AM | John Paine (Administrator)

    As a Buckley native, the Foothills Trail has been a part of Pat Johnson’s life for decades. Before becoming the recreational trail we know it as today, the Foothills Trail was a series of railbeds cutting through towns that had formerly prospered from the mining and lumber industries. Johnson lived in Buckley as a court battle ensued over the tracks’ right of way, which was eventually awarded to the City.

    “Doc Tait would round up people to help clear a primitive path on this new found City-owned property and I attended several work parties,” Johnson said. “The Foothills Coalition was looking for a few new board members especially for women. They asked me if I would take an active role on the Board and I said yes. That was about 25 years ago.”

    Johnson added that whenever she sees a chance for improvement in her community, she tries to get involved. The proof is in her resume – during her time on the Foothills Coalition board, she’s served as a member of the Buckley City Council and the Mayor of Buckley – a position she held for 16 years, and during which, saw its positive impact on the local community.

    “People are looking for things to do with families,” Johnson said. “The trails are safe pedestrian corridors. Walking is one of the best exercises that you can do. The trails are free. Who needs to pay a gym membership when you have a trail to walk on?”

    Her favorite way to enjoy the trail throughout the years has been walking.

    “Walking is slower than a bike ride and you can really hear the birds, eagles flying overhead, smell the grass and trees after it has rained,” she said. “You feel relaxed, sometimes exhausted but always ready for the next challenge of the day.”

    And, in Buckley, in part under her leadership, Johnson has seen the Foothills Trail become much more than just a place for a walk and spend time with friends and family.

    “In Buckley, the trail is the new Main Street. It’s our largest park and the cheapest park to manage. We have concerts in the summer, our skate park, library, museum, and youth center are all along the trail,” Johnson said.

    And like many who serve and support the Trail, Johnson is looking forward to the potential the Foothills Trail has in both the near and long term future.

    “The bridge across the White River into Buckley so you will soon allow trail users to ride a bike from Enumclaw to Puyallup,” she said. “Someday King County hopes to take the trail and connect to the Cedar River Trail. From there the sky is the limit!”

    If you’re interested in becoming more involved in the Foothills Coalition, or even becoming a board member, please reach out to

  • Thursday, October 19, 2023 11:30 AM | John Paine (Administrator)

    By Brianne Blackburn, Planner & Trails Coordinator, Pierce County Parks

    East Puyallup Trailhead Improvements

    The East Puyallup Trailhead is a very popular location for people to begin their Foothills Trail adventures. This trailhead features a restroom facility, kiosk, and 23 well-used parking spaces. The parking is so well- used that there are often a large number of vehicles parking along the roadway shoulder and other areas creating safety and maintenance issues.

    Pierce County Parks is excited to announce that construction will begin in September 2023 to expand parking capacity and upgrade amenities at the East Puyallup Trailhead. Over the next 4-5 months, crews will be working to bring the following upgrades to this trailhead:

    • Increased parking capacity from 26 stalls to 81 stalls;
    • Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations;
    • New lighting
    • Updated signage
    • Planting and drainage improvements
    • ADA Improvements

    Construction Related Impacts

    During Construction, the trail will remain open, but the parking lot and restrooms will be closed. This work is scheduled to begin in early September and will take approximately 4-5 months to complete. Visit the project website ( for more information and to sign up for email updates.


    Other Foothills Trail Project:

    There are a number of other projects underway to imrpove the Foothills Trail. Here is a quick rundown of projects you may have noticed this summer or are in the works:

    • Ski Park Bridge: The Ski Park Bridge, located along the Foothills Trail between Orting and South Prairie, is a timber bridge originally built in 1904 as a trestle along the former railroad route. Due to its age and location within a wetland, it is in need of replacement. The Pierce County bridge engineers recommend the complete replacement of the existing bridge with a new two-span, prestressed concrete birder bridge which will have an estimated 100-year useful life.
    • ** The project is at 30% design with construction scheduled for summer of 2025. We anticipate the trail to be closed for approximately 6 months for the replacement. Summer 2023 saw brief closures of the trail at the Ski Park bridge for geotechnical drilling related to the bridge design.
    • ADA Improvements: The Parks Department completed an ADA Transition Plan in 2017 which identified needed corrections (deficits) and created a plan and schedule for making them. Since then, Parks has worked steadily to address accessibility deficits during the course of regular park maintenance and with new construction. The Foothills Trail saw (or will see!) the following ADA improvements:
    • ** McMillin Trailhead: Signage installation and restroom ADA accessibility improvements.
    • ** South Prairie Trailhead: ADA accessibility improvements.
    • ** Trail crossing at Military Road and 136th Street: ADA accessibility improvements.
    • Expect temporary closures during project.

      WSDOT Fish Passage Improvements: As a part of their statewide efforts to improve fish passage, WSDOT is planning to reconstruct culverts on Rauch Creek under SR-162 which is likely to include reconstruction of a culvert under the Foothills Trail between Orting and Crocker Parking Area. Coordination between WSDOT and Pierce County will continue as the project progresses to design in the coming months. 
    • Temporary, daytime closures of the trail are expected for up to a couple of days this fall as the team performs geotechnical drilling. Exact dates to be determined. Construction is planned for 2025.

      For more information on Parks projects, please visit
  • Friday, September 22, 2023 1:54 PM | John Paine (Administrator)

    Construction Update

    During the past Summer quarter the Foothills Trail Construction has progressed to achieve a very important milestone in the placement of the initial bridge segment framework across the White River.  This task occurred after the placement of ten 30’ deep concrete foundation shafts and seismic structural retrofit work associated with the three existing piers to ensure proper support for the new bridge segments. There was also a new pier built with a drilled shaft foundation on the King County side to provide support for the segment crossing the White River’s potential channel migration area.

    Work To Come

    Upcoming work within the Fall quarter includes the placement of the concrete deck for the river span as well as the building of the remaining two segments (with the pouring of their respective concrete decks) along the proposed trail alignment in Buckley and King County.

    The Segment B (White River Bridge with approaches) project is still on schedule to be completed during the late Spring/early Summer of 2024 for public use. Segment C, the final segment across a cultural resource property on the KC side, is now in the Bid Phase and scheduled for completion in coordination with the Segment B project completion date. While we are striving to get the overall project completed in the best timely manner, the timeline is subject to material availability market conditions as well as winter weather condition impacts in the execution of the remaining work.

  • Friday, September 22, 2023 1:48 PM | John Paine (Administrator)

    After decades of bike riding throughout Pierce County, Theresa Turpin decided to focus more attention on her local trails following her retirement in 2022. As Steilacoom native, Ms. Turpin grew up riding the local trails and remembers the early days of the Foothills Trail, seeing its construction on her way to the Interurban Trail.

    “Once parts of the Foothills Trail were constructed, I would bike it, often with my sister as my biking buddy,” she said. “We both became members of the Foothills Rails to Trail Coalition off and on. Before the trail was connected to Buckley, we would bike on the narrow South Prairie Carbon River Road between Crocker and South Prairie and even did Tubbs Road - what a hill! - prior to the trail being connected.”

    Aside from personal recreation, Ms. Turpin’s career led her to become more entwined with the trails. As a consultant and transportation planner, she worked alongside early leaders of the Foothills Coalition including Buzz Grant and Dixie Getchel, and in 2016, was hired as a project manager for Pierce County Parks and Recreation with the goal of completing the Foothills Trail’s connection from South Prairie to Buckley - which is now a frequented portion of the trail, especially during summer when the dense forest provides excellent shade.

    Since first seeing its construction, through the time working on the Foothills Trail, Ms. Turpin saw the value it brought to the local community and the region.

    “It is an amazing trail that provides active transportation opportunities. It connects communities, provides commuting options, and regional recreational opportunities. Now, when biking on the trail I often see friends from Tacoma and Seattle enjoying it too,” she said.

    During this time, she was a regular participant in Foothills Coalition meetings and even made presentations at its annual gatherings.

    Her career continued to advance her involvement in local trails, even after transitioning to the Washington State Department of Transportation where she served as the Multimodal Development Manager for Olympic Region. There she facilitated trail plans in the region, worked with the Olympic Discovery Trail, and was involved in conversations with the Great American Rail Trail which considered it to complete the trail that begins in Washington, D.C.

    “Once I retired in 2022, I didn’t see myself not being involved in trails and became a board member for the Foothills Coalition. Once I was part of the board, I was asked to be the Vice President and accepted that position,” she said.

    As a board member, Ms. Turpin brings a big vision for the future of the Foothills Trail and with her long career in the sector is sure to serve as a valuable resource in long term planning.

    “I look forward to seeing the potential connections of the Foothills to the Riverwalk and to the Sumner Link Trail. Plus, once the Foothills Trail connection to Enumclaw is completed in 2024 there will be many opportunities for other connections, maybe even onto SR 410,” she said. “With the SR 167 work being completed by WSDOT and Canyon Road work being done by Pierce County, I would really like to see a road buffet that would entail converting the existing north lane of River Road into a protected two-way bike path along the Puyallup River, avoiding all the driveways on the south side and providing views of the Puyallup River.”

    During her days on the Foothills Trail, Ms. Turpin enjoys biking with friends and family.

  • Thursday, October 13, 2022 10:42 AM | Dennis Brooke

    The Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition is excited to seek out new members to fill our board! If you, or someone you know has a passion for growing, extending and improving trails in Pierce County and beyond, joining the FTC board is an amazing way to have some input and make your voice heard. It is an exciting time to join the board of the Coalition, as we have recently hired a new Executive Director to run the organization as the FTC looks to increase its involvement and advocacy around activities that further our mission to develop a continuous non-motorized trail from Mt. Rainier to the Puget Sound. If you are interested in joining our board, please contact Steve Brown of the nominating committee at  Or, send them a short note about why you’d like to be a board member and your relevant background.

    DEADLINE for nominations or application is Wednesday, November 30th.

    Elections will be at our January meeting. Each board member is elected for a three year term.

  • Thursday, October 06, 2022 7:55 AM | Dennis Brooke

    The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition is pleased to announce the hiring of Shayla Miles as its new Executive Director. Miles will manage day-to-day operations of the coalition and serve as their representative with a number of government and other non-profit agencies. 

    Miles earned her BA from the University of Washington and her MPA from Evergreen State College. Most recently, she served as the Development Director for the Pacific Bonsai Museum located in Federal Way, Washington. Her former supervisor there described her as prepared, professional, and driven. She said that the Foothills Coalition would be lucky to have Shayla join the organization. 

    “Hiring Ms. Miles is an important step in the growth of the Foothills Coalition,” said Bryan Bowden, Coalition Secretary. “Since our formation in 1984 until now, the management of the organization has been primarily a volunteer activity and our upcoming goals will require the leadership and dedication only an experienced employee can offer.”

    The Board made the decision in early 2022 to create this permanent position and after interviewing qualified candidates, found Miles to be the best choice to manage the organization and help it achieve its vision of trail development.

    “Living in western Washington, I’ve seen how important trails are in our communities and I believe the preservation and expansion of the Foothills Trail is vital as we move into the future,” Ms. Miles said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the Foothills Coalition and helping them reach their goals.”

    Upcoming projects Ms. Miles will be working on include the expansion of the Foothills Trail into King County and the completion of the White River Bridge which will connect the trail in Buckley to the Enumclaw Trail system. King County Parks is the lead on that important link. Connections to both Kitsap and Thurston Counties are also planned. The coalition partners with many government agencies, especially Pierce County Parks, as well as other organizations to procure and develop trails suitable for users on cycle, foot, and even horseback. Ms. Miles will act as a key liaison for the organization. 

    The Foothills Coalition is pleased to welcome Shayla Miles to their leadership team and the trail family. They are confident she will help take them to the next level as they continue to advocate for trail networks in the area. 

    About the Foothills Rails to Trail Coalition

    The mission of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition is to assist Pierce County governments and communities in the creation, maintenance and usage of a connected system of non-motorized trails for healthier people from Mount Rainier to Puget Sound. To learn more about the coalition or to become a member, visit

  • Thursday, September 08, 2022 11:48 AM | Dennis Brooke

    From a recent email by Chris Erickson, Project Manager for King County Parks:

    "The construction of the White River Bridge was awarded to Ceccanti Inc. out of Tacoma for a bid amount of $11.2M. There are a number of bridge component materials which have a considerable lead time in delivering to the project site. The construction should break ground by early 2023 and be complete in early 2024.

    There is one more separate construction contract to be bid out for the final short connection from Mud Mountain Rd to the historic Boise Creek Bridge.  This portion of the alignment has undergone permitting delays, but KC Parks remains hopeful this work can be bid out and constructed in coordination with the projected White River Bridge completion date."

    For more information about the project see this article

    The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition is pleased to be able to partner with King County Parks, Pierce County Parks, and the city of Buckley on this important project.

  • Thursday, September 01, 2022 9:42 AM | Dennis Brooke

    The coalition was pleased to receive a letter of support for our work and the planned Doctor Tait Plaza from Roxanne Miles, the Director of Pierce County Parks & Recreation. She also recognized the work done by the coalition to make the dream of a trail network a reality. 

    We're happy to be working with Pierce County Parks, other agencies, and our many supporters to extend this jewel of a trail system. 

    To read the entire letter click here.

    To support the Doctor Tait plaza and other coalition efforts check out the Take Action page on our website. 

  • Tuesday, July 12, 2022 10:33 PM | Dennis Brooke

    The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition Historical Pavilion and Doctor Douglas Tait Plaza project was featured in The News Tribune. Read the article here.

    To support the project visit this page: Donate

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The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 192; Puyallup WA 98371-0021

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