Sky to Sound Water Trail coming together

Monroe City Council receives status report on new system

Kelly Sullivan

Plans for the Sky to Sound Water Trail continue to progress.

Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism staff have compiled and released the findings from a two-day June open house hosted to gather public comments and expand on preliminary proposals. In July, a follow-up meeting was held with city leaders to evaluate the feedback.

The agency’s strategic tourism plan coordinator Annique Bennett and senior planner Kevin Teague presented the report to the Monroe City Council at last Tuesday’s meeting. The Sultan council received an update on Thursday. Those who attended the first summer session toured six locations in Monroe and Sultan on the Sultan and Skykomish rivers.

“We looked at ways to orient visitors to the river and orient the river users to the community, and we looked at ways to link existing trails to future sites,” Bennett said.

The water trail spans 84 miles. It stretches from the Salish Sea to the north and south forks of the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers. More than two dozen public access points have been identified between Everett and the town of Skykomish.

The Sky to Sound Water Trail Coalition formed in late 2015. The group is made up of residents, nonprofit employees, public officials and staff from city, county and state level agencies. Monroe and Sultan are the first cities to actively engage in the design process, according to county documents.

“Communities within the Skykomish and Snohomish River Valleys are now exploring a common regional identity centered on the water trail as a way to connect residents and visitors to the river; promote education and stewardship of salmon habitat; and support the local economy,” according to council documents.

During the workshop, design teams comprised of local and regional representatives, including city staff and officials, walked three access points; representatives from the National Park Service and the American Society of Landscape Architects also participated. Ideas were presented the next day at an open house.

In Monroe, Al Borlin Park, the Lewis Street Park and boat launch, and the future Cadman site have been identified as potential entry points on the route. A master plan is being designed for the latter, which should be finalized by the end of the year.

A trail connecting the Al Borlin and future Cadman parks is proposed in the report. Councilmember Jim Kamp said he supports the idea of developing a river walk along the waterfront.

“Monroe has this great pearl of parks along the river — what a tremendous opportunity,” Teague said.

The two parks are city-owned, and Cadman Inc. will eventually transfer the restored mining site to the city. The boat launch is owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bennett said.

The land managers of each area the water trail passes through will be largely responsible for that part of the route.

Building on the area’s identity with art, wayfinding signs and landscaping was discussed to draw visitors into the historic downtown corridor from the water trail, according to the report. Highlighting heritage and history is a suggested target for both cities.

Signage at the Monroe boat launch and sprucing up the parking lot would make the area feel “less like a utilitarian space and more like a park space,” Teague said.

In Monroe and Sultan, the groups emphasized expanding on existing trail systems to make it easier to get around on foot.

Work on some of the priorities listed in the report has already begun. The city of Sultan is in the design phase of building a pedestrian walkway over the Sultan River that would connect the Sultan River and Sportsman’s parks, according to the report.

Funding for the project is slated for the 2018 budget, according to the report. The city has also begun development of Susie’s Trail, which would connect Sultan River Park and Osprey Park.

Planning for a downtown Monroe master plan is underway that would aim to extend the corridor down Lewis Street toward the river, according to the report. It would also designate a downtown core. 

During the workshop, the Sultan team looked at Sultan River Park and Sportsman’s Park, which is owned by the WDFW, and the site of the future Steelhead county park.

The county parks department purchased the riverfront property that sits along the Skykomish River south of Sultan and adjoins Snohomish County Surface Water Management Division land, according to a 2016 county application for NPS community assistance. The future park will be about 60 acres.

A campground and roadway have been proposed in the water trail report. That section of river is swift, so boat launches for the park are suggested for motorized boats only.

Once the plan is finalized, it will provide direction for planning related to the waterway.

Teague said the document also will be part of the county’s open space plan. The listed projects will be more competitively positioned to receive grant funding, and the application for obtaining the national water trail designation can begin, according to the Sky to Sound Water Trail Concept Plan.


Photo courtesy of Trudy Soriano: As part of a two-day workshop community members worked to expand on and review concepts for the Sky to Sound Water Trail Concept Plan in Sultan and Monroe in June.


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