There's a powerful Pacific Northwest vibe on this trail -- leaping coho salmon, bald eagles, stores selling growlers of IPA, snowy peaks in the distance and the grey-blue icy waters of the Pilchuck and Stillaguamish rivers.
Since its first phase opened in 1991, the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County, Wash., has grown in length and reputation to now attract more than 500,000 users each year. Its appeal with bikers, hikers, bladers and horseback riders is now set to expand even further with the extension of the trail another four miles, to a historic barn on farmland near the Skagit County line.
Along a Burlington Northern railroad corridor that had sat disused since 1970, the area's original trails-activism group, the Pathways Task Force, succeeded mightily in pushing ahead a rail-trail which is now one of the county's iconic attractions as well as a much-loved resource for locals.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Graphic Designer, Barbara Richey, based in Seattle, made the short trip north last summer for a day on the Centennial Trail and shot these photos (click the photo, above right, for a slideshow of more images) of a trail which is clearly deserving of its popularity.
"There's a lot to be impressed by on the Centennial Trail," Richey says. "Beautiful countryside and small towns, a wide path with gentle curves -- it's perfect for an afternoon outing. Everyone seems to move at their own pace, and although there were lots of people on the trail that day it never felt congested. It's fantastic that it has now been extended."