Imagine leaving Sunnyside on a hike and ending up in Mt. Rainier National Park. Or how about hiking from Sunnyside to Ellensburg to hook up with the John Wayne Trail.
These activities could someday be reality thanks to a Yakima County trails plan completed just last month.
Dave Veley, equipment services manager for Yakima County, told the Sunnyside Noon Rotary Club members yesterday (Monday) it is hoped one day these trails will be a reality.
Such trails are made possible by Yakima County partnering with a non-profit organization that comes up with the local match needed to get grants for the projects.
Yakima County doesn't pay for the trails due to budget concerns. Veley noted Yakima County only manages two parks now, Eschbach Park in Yakima and Lower Naches Community Park in Gleed. He said Union Gap took over maintaining Youth Activities Park, Sunnyside now maintains Sunnyview Park, and Yakima will soon take over West Valley Community Park.
Groups like the Yakima Greenway Foundation and the Lower Valley Pathway Foundation are two organizations that fund already existing trails. There is a trail that leads from Sunnyside clear to Grandview. A group in Benton County extended that trail to stretch to Prosser.
The recent trails plan needed to be updated, said Veley, so these organizations can apply for state and federal grants through Yakima County.
"They come up with the local match and also maintain the trails," Veley said of the non-profit groups.
"Trails are a creature of opportunity," he said. "When the opportunity comes up you jump on it."
He said the groups try to look at new opportunities with statewide significance. The idea, he said, is to tie in local trails with larger ones, such as the William O. Douglas Trail and the John Wayne Trail.
Veley said there are benefits to having a large trail network. They can be used as alternative modes of transportation, such as bike trails. Spurs can also be developed off of the trails to highlight certain aspects of the economy, like wineries.
The newest trail to be formed, Veley said, is an addition to the Naches trail. From 40th Avenue in Yakima, 2.27 miles of new trail will be extended to Sun Tides Golf Course, along the old Naches railroad line.
He noted current trails weren't in existence 30 years ago and it is hoped one day the Lower Valley will be linked to all of the Yakima Valley by a trail system.