The popular Foothills Trail, which winds through East Pierce County from Puyallup to Buckley, is among 54 trails around the country that are joining the National Recreational Trail system.
Two federal officials - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis - announced the designations on Thursday, May 31. Spanning 23 states, the land and water trails add nearly 1,400 miles of trails to the 13,650-mile system.
"The Foothills Trail is one of Pierce County's recreational gems, and it's only going to get better as we extend the paved portions to the planned 28-mile route, said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "I'm proud of the work done by Pierce County Parks and Recreation and the local communities to enhance our quality of life with such an outstanding recreational opportunity."
Added Pierce County Council Chair Joyce McDonald (District 2): "The success of the Foothills Trail would not be possible without strong support from the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition, and their partners. Their dedication and enthusiasm provides opportunities for walkers, cyclists, skaters and equestrians to enjoy the natural beauty of Pierce County."
Thursday's announcement came in advance of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 2, when hundreds of organized activities - including hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications - will take place around the country.
Saturday's event will be marked on the Foothills Trail with the annual R2R event: "Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay & Ultra." The event challenges teams of walkers and runners and follows the shoulders of Mount Rainier to the shores of Puget Sound. More information is available at www.rainiertoruston.com.
National recreation trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation. Each of the new national recreation trails will receive a certificate of designation, a letter of congratulations from Secretary Salazar, and a set of trail markers.
"From Alabama to Alaska, these national recreation trails provide a gateway to outdoor recreation in both urban and rural areas," said Secretary Salazar. "I am proud to partner with communities across the nation to expand this extraordinary network of trails, allowing more Americans to enjoy the great outdoors."
The national trail system has become so extensive that if all the trails were laid end to end they would cross the country more than four times, offering millions of Americans opportunities to bike, hike, paddle and spend time with their family and friends outdoors, Jarvis noted.
The national recreation trail program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service in conjunction with a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the national recreation trails website at www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Adam Fetcher, Department of the Interior(202) 208-6416
Kathy Kupper, National Park Services(202) 208-04990
Hunter George, Pierce County Communications(253) 798-6606