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.