Lord Hill Regional Park Preferred Plan Process
Updated: May 12, 2022
- In support of finalizing the preferred plan, Snohomish County Park staff are completing trail assessments in May 2022. They have been walking and surveying every trail at Lord Hill.
- Our consultant team is completing critical area reconnaissance and geotechnical assessments in May 2022.
- Trail work by Snohomish County Parks staff is planned for May 17-25, 2022 on "Third Eye" to reroute the trail.
- Parks is in the process of finalizing the Preferred Plan, building from the feedback heard during our fall 2021 meetings, survey and community outreach. Thank you to everyone who participated. We received around 800 responses and are taking the community feedback into consideration as we refine the Preferred Plan.
- We have recently updated the documents tab with meeting presentations, notes, survey results and more.
- A public meeting will be held summer 2022 to share out the final plan. The date of this meeting is TBD and we will post the date here, in the newsletter and on social media when it is decided.
To receive future updates for this project (and others) visit our e-newsletter subscription page and subscribe to "Updates from Snohomish County Parks".
What upcoming trail work will take place spring 2022?
Trail work by Snohomish County Parks staff is planned for May 17-25, 2022 on "Third Eye" to reroute the trail.
Rerouting “Third Eye”
We will be rerouting a portion of the “Third Eye” trail. The trail is being rerouted to fix the unsafe intersection with the “Rock Candy Bypass” trail. The reroute will shift the trail alignment so that users coming down “Third Eye” will exit onto the “Rock Candy Bypass” and ride uphill for a short distance before rejoining “Third Eye.” This redesign follows best practices for trail design and will improve the safety of this intersection for all users.
We will be decommissioning “Divingboard” trail, a short trail (1/20th of a mile) that branches off “Upper Springboard” and is a parallel route with the end of “Upper Springboard.” The drop feature on “Divingboard” does not fit with the planned style of trail in the park.
There may be additional trail work done this spring on rogue trails, but no work is planned on our established trails, as shown on our current trail map. Rogue trails can be problematic for many reasons, including not being designed with safety in mind, not being sited to minimize environmental impact, not being designed to fit into the current trail system, and other significant challenges.
Who will be decommissioning/modifying the trails, when and why?
Snohomish County Parks staff will be decommissioning/modifying the trails this spring. Parks will post upcoming trail work on the Lord Hill Park page: https://snocoparks.info/LordHillPark
These trails and features have become a point of concern for safety, as points of conflict, and/or for environmental reasons.
Please see different tabs below for more information.
Lord Hill Regional Park is a gem within the Snohomish County Parks system, one that we are looking ahead to preserve in light of our changing climate and growing population within the county and the region. As a regional park, Lord Hill is shared between many different recreational uses and we recognize there are opportunities to optimize the trail system of the park to improve user experience and safety. Lord Hill Regional Park is also mostly a natural area, and the Parks Division is committed to preserving critical areas and habitat throughout the park.
Building from the Master Plan originally published in 1988 and updated in 1996, the Parks & Recreation Division is looking to update our Preferred Plan for the park which includes an official trail plan, wayfinding signs and posts, detailed maps and expanded parking solutions. Working with a study group of stakeholders representing the various local user groups, a shared-use conceptual plan will be refined through this process and will serve as the basis for the official trail plan. Parks will continue to work with the study group on establishing the trail system designations and placing signage and maps throughout the park.
Lord Hill Regional Park is a 1,480-acre park located in central Snohomish County between the cities of Snohomish and Monroe. Set in former timberland, the park offers users 32 miles of trails where park visitors can traverse uphill and downhill through the forest passing wetlands and ponds scattered within the park. The park is popular with hikers, runners, equestrians, mountain bikers, bird watchers, orienteering groups and native plant enthusiasts.
- Springboard single track trail re-route completed by the Everett Mountaineers.
- Wayne’s World trail re-route completed by the Snohomish County Trails to Success program. Re-opened as a hiking only trail to prevent additional Critical Area degradation.
- Pilchuck Audubon Society performed and published the results of the Lord Hill Regional Park Bird Blitz. Parks is currently working on adding results to project map.
- Washington Native Plant Society completed plant surveys and has submitted spreadsheet results to Parks Staff for mapping.
- Equestrian by-pass to the Beaver Trail has been constructed by Friends of Lord Hill Park and opened 2017.
Tester Road entrance, log yard and southern trails temporarily secured. Parks installed permanent gates and fencing in 2019.
- All acquisitions, plans and site developments are subject to funding availability and subject to Snohomish County Executive and County Council approval.
- 1983 Lord Hill Master Plan
- 1988 Lord Hill Regional Park Master Plan
- 1996 Supplemental Master Plan for Lord Hill Regional Park
- Site and Management Plan Background
- Addressing Public Concerns and Project Timeline
- Pilchuck Audubon Bird Blitz Results June 2017
- Washington Native Plant Society Plant Survey Results August 2017
- Washington Native Plant Society Plant Survey Results October 2017
- January 6, 2017 Agenda
- Lord Hill Study Group Input - January 2017
- April 21, 2017 Agenda
- July 21, 2017 Meeting Materials
- March 8, 2018 Agenda
- March 8, 2018 Meeting Materials
- September 20, 2018 Agenda
- September 20, 2018 Meeting Materials
- April 5, 2019 Agenda
- April 5, 2019 Meeting Materials
- 2021 Updated Overview Trail Map (11/10/21)
- 2021 November Stakeholder Meeting Presentation (PDF)
- 2021 November Stakeholder Meeting Speaking Points (PDF)
- 2021 November Public Meeting Presentation (PDF)
- 2021 November Public Meeting Notes (PDF)
- 2021 Map Detail Explanation Document (PDF)
- 2021 Community Survey Results (PDF)
- 2022 Status Update Meeting Presentation (3/31/22)
- 2022 Status Update Meeting Notes (PDF)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Updated: April 13, 2022
I’m new to shared-use trails. What is the etiquette when using Lord Hill Regional Park trails?
Here are the basics of right-of-way broken down depending on what type of trail user you are (from Washington Trails Association):
As a hiker, you're probably the slowest trail user out there when compared to bikes and horses. What hikers lack in speed though is made up in maneuverability, allowing them to find areas to yield to other trail users easily. Here are some tips for meeting other trail users while on a hike:
- Hikers should yield to equestrians when possible. If the conditions permit, step to the downhill side of the trail.
- Communicate with equestrians and try not to make any sudden movements when the horse passes to avoid startling it.
- If you encounter another hiker, the hiker moving downhill yields to the hiker moving uphill.
Mountain bikers are the fastest moving trail users out there on a descent, so keeping an eye ahead on the trail is good practice. Here are a few tips and guidelines for riding on a multi-use trail:
- Mountain bikers must yield to both hikers and equestrians when possible.
- Slow speeds around blind corners where you might encounter another trail user.
- Some equestrians may ask you to dismount from the bike as they pass to avoid startling the horse.
- Wait for horses to fully pass before resuming your ride.
- If you encounter another mountain biker, yield to the rider moving uphill.
As the largest trail user, equestrians and their horses can be intimidating for other trail users to encounter. Communicating with hikers and mountain bikers about how best to yield is good practice. Here are some tips for encountering mountain bikers and hikers:
- Though equestrians have the right-of-way when meeting hikers and mountain bikers, there may be situations where it makes more sense to yield than pass. This is especially pertinent if mountain bikers are approaching from behind on a descent.
- Use clear communication to other trail users to ensure they won't be in the way when passing.
- Politely ask mountain bikers to dismount if your horse is easily startled or unsure around bikes.
- If you encounter another equestrian, find a wide area to yield and allow the horse moving uphill to pass.
TRAIL USERS WITH DOGS
Taking your dog onto trails comes with an added set of responsibilities to not only your pet, but also to other trail users. Here are some tips and guidelines for bringing your dog on trail:
- Trail users with dogs should yield to all other trail users.
- It's best practice (and on some trails, the law) to have your dog on leash. Dogs must be on-leash at Lord Hill Regional Park.
- Keep your dog close when passing children, horses or other dogs, even if your dog is friendly. Be sure to communicate with equestrians to ensure the horse isn't startled by the presence of other animals.
Here are some great resources for more trail education:
I’m interested in volunteering at Lord Hill. How can I learn more?
Please contact Tony Trofimczuk (Tony.Trofimczuk@co.snohomish.wa.us), who is Parks’ volunteer coordinator.
NOTE: Volunteer work is temporarily on hold while we launch a new enterprise-wide volunteer system which will help us better coordinate with our volunteers and provide better consistency and communication. Launch is planned for May 2022. We look forward to working with you when volunteer work resumes!
How do I share my thoughts or get involved with the Lord Hill Regional Park Preferred Plan Process?
PUBLIC MEETING: We will be hosting a public meeting about the LHRP Preferred Plan in June 2022. The date is still TBD, and we will post more information about the meeting on the project webpage.
NEWSLETTER: You can sign up for our monthly “Updates from Snohomish County Parks” public newsletter for regular updates on parks and the Lord Hill Regional Park process here.
Project Contact: Emily Griffith, Snohomish County Senior Park Planner
Email: email@example.com Phone: 425-388-6620
Where can I learn the history of this project and what has already been done?
Lord Hill Regional Park (LHRP) is a gem within the Snohomish County Parks system, one that we are looking ahead to preserve in light of our changing climate and growing population within the county and the region. As a regional park, LHRP is shared between many different recreational uses and we recognize there are opportunities to optimize the trail system to improve user experience and safety. LHRP is mostly a natural area, and the Parks & Recreation Division is committed to preserving critical areas and habitat throughout the park.
Building from the Master Plan originally published in 1988 and updated in 1996, the Snohomish County Parks & Recreation Division is updating the Preferred Plan for the park which includes an official trail plan, wayfinding signs and posts, detailed maps and expanded parking solutions. Working with a study group of stakeholders representing the various local user groups, a shared-use conceptual plan will be refined through this process and will serve as the basis for the official trail plan. Parks will continue to work with the study group on establishing the trail system designations and placing signage and maps throughout the park.
Who primarily uses LHRP and who does it serve?
As one of the largest parks in our county parks system at nearly 1,500 acres, LHRP is an important regional park for not only the county, but the region. LHRP serves recreational needs for all of Snohomish County’s 800,000 residents and the many visitors who enjoy Snohomish County’s beautiful recreation areas. Regional parks and trails contain features that draw users from across the county and are highly valued by Snohomish County residents. The service area for regional parks and trails such as LHRP is county-wide. The park serves a wide range of user groups including wildlife watchers, hikers, equestrian riders, mountain bikers, nature enthusiasts, educators and more. 80% of visitors to Lord Hill Regional Park use it for hiking. We know that with increasing use we need to adapt our trail system to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all users, whether you prefer to walk or ride.
If the Proposed Plan is still in draft, why have there been changes over the last five years?
There has been ongoing maintenance by staff and volunteers to keep our trails in good condition. Some trails were reclassified as bike only trails and modifications were made to those trails, although the final plan won’t be officially adopted until the Preferred Plan is complete. A lot of these changes were in response to safety concerns expressed by users in response to conflicts between user groups. Bikes were shifted onto alternate trails to try to alleviate these concerns. We understand that there has been confusion around this in the community as it was not clearly communicated why these changes were made. As part of restarting the preferred plan process in 2021, we have created an internal team to better coordinate on what is happening in the park, as well as prioritizing clear and consistent communication to the community and stakeholders. The preferred plan is currently being vetted with the community.
What is the status of the Preferred Plan? When will there be an update available?
Since the last update in November 2021, we have been reviewing the nearly 800 responses from individuals and all of the input we’ve heard over the years. All of our decisions are grounded in the extensive community input we’ve received – and are translating the many different desires into a park and trail system that will provide a safe, positive, and shared recreation experience for visitors, while also protecting this natural resource for generations to come. And now is the time to act and implement all we’ve heard, finalize the plan, and begin the projects that will see the plan realized.
We do not have updated details to share out on the preferred plan at this time. We are in the process of finalizing the preferred plan this spring and plan to have it ready to share in June 2022. Our grant that funded the planning process expires at the end of May 2022.
What are the changes to the Preferred Plan?
Please refer to the March 2022 meeting materials in the “Documents” tab. The priority has always been to create a safe, enjoyable, sustainable recreation experience for all user groups. The final Preferred Plan will be presented at the summer public meeting where staff will present the plan and changes.
What data is being used to guide the preferred plan?
For reports, meeting agendas/materials/notes, survey results, etc., please refer to the “Documents” tab.
Visitor usage data has been counted in various ways over the years, including through traffic counts, trail counters, and in-person counts.
Have other parks that have shared-use trails been studied?
This is a conversation happening in many parks around the county, region, and country, and we have looked at many different solutions as part of the process. We are adapting them to Lord Hill as a unique park with unique needs.
Why modify existing trails instead of creating separate, parallel routes for other users?
More than 75% of the park remains undeveloped, creating the experience of being immersed in nature. We intend to preserve the natural areas and character of the park by minimizing the amount of development.
Will you honor promises made in the 1996 Master Plan?
The 1996 Master Plan was never officially adopted by Snohomish County Council, but was suggested as an addendum to the 1988 plan. The Preferred Plan will build from both the Master Plan originally published in 1988 and the 1996 updates. The Preferred Plan for the park will include an official trail plan, wayfinding signs and posts, detailed maps and expanded parking solutions. Working with a study group of stakeholders representing the various local user groups, a shared-use conceptual plan will be refined through this process and will serve as the basis for the official trail plan. Parks will continue to work with the study group on establishing the trail system designations and placing signage and maps throughout the park.
How have you collected and incorporated public feedback on the process?
This process has entailed collecting an immense amount of feedback from the public, spanning 2016-present. This includes:
- Public meetings, study groups and addressing public concerns 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021
- Pilchuck Audubon Bird Blitz 2017
- Washington Native Plant Society Plant Survey August + October 2017
- Public input from the 2021 Parks & Recreation Visioning Survey. While this was a survey asking about broad recreation interests, 800 comments were made specific to Lord Hill Regional Park. We have included that public input in this process
- Stakeholder meeting on November 3, 2021
- Public Meeting on November 16, 2021
- Fall 2021 Lord Hill specific public survey (700 responses)
- March 2022 status update meeting
We have consulted with community stakeholders representing diverse user groups including:
- Executive Horse Council of Snohomish County
- Backcountry Horsemen of America
- Washington Trails Association
- Friends of Lord Hill Regional Park
- Lord Hill Advocates
- Lord Hill Homeowners Association
- Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
- Local mountain bike teams
- Pilchuck Audubon Society
- Washington Native Plant Society
- Snohomish County Parks Advisory Board
- Everett Mountaineers
- Lord Hill Hikers
- 4-H Horses of Snohomish County
- Hannus Horse Group
- BuDu Racing
- Snohomish Student Cycling League
- Pilchuck Mountain Bike Club
- Cascade Orienteering
- Snohomish County Search and Rescue
- Snohomish and Monroe School Districts
- Trail Running groups
- Fishing enthusiasts
- Paddle craft enthusiasts
- Local community members
Are you using national trail-building standards during this process?
Yes. We are designing all trails to match U.S. Forest Service standards and biking trails are meeting International Mountain Bike Association standards. Both of these trail classification systems are national guidelines for the type of trails in use and meet user safety and environmental standards.
What is the difference between a Preferred Plan and a Master Plan? Why are you not doing a Master Plan process?
The Preferred Plan process is a public process and includes robust public involvement but does not require going through County Council. However, we regularly update and work with County Council on all park projects, park updates and park Preferred Plan processes to keep them informed of how we are serving the community and their districts. When compared to a Master Plan process, the Preferred Plan leaves us much more flexibility for updating, adapting, or changing a park use in the future. Any future changes still require public input. It is a more flexible process to accommodate community and park needs in the future. See Table 1 below for comparison.
Table 1. Preferred Plan vs. Master Plan
Not formally adopted by Council, but shared out with Council, typically through briefings
Formally adopted with a motion through Council
Public input sought throughout the process and Preferred Plan driven by public input
Public input sought throughout the process and Master Plan (potentially) modified by Council input
State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
SEPA done with implemented projects at the time of pursuing permits
SEPA done at the time of the Master Plan process
Option to undertake projects not identified in the Preferred Plan by going through a public process with stakeholder input
Council process and approval required to revise Master Plan
Who is leading this process?
Snohomish County Park staff are leading the Preferred Plan process. J.A. Brennan Associates PLLC is supporting the project by developing the Preferred Plan report, and determining the best routes for proposed or modified trails. They will be doing environmental studies for new trail alignments, evaluating concerns over critical areas, looking at parking lot maintenance and potential expansion as well as drafting these alignments, maps and providing design expertise and technical support for the trail system.
Why are you doing this process? Why now?
Lord Hill Regional Park (LHRP) has always been a gem within our county parks system. The park has many more users since the park officially opened almost 30 years ago in 1995. We are updating the Preferred Plan to optimize the park for more users, diverse users and to fulfill the recreation needs of the county which have significantly changed since then. We want to respond to the current needs of LHRP and plan for future anticipated park needs to best serve the park users, the community and the county. With an increase in recreation in our region and across the country, now is the opportune time to consider how the current trail system is meeting our population’s needs for recreation and to work with stakeholders and the community to create a LHRP for everyone. The planning process to update the Preferred Plan was started in 2016. The process paused in 2020 due to COVID-19 and since the lead park planner in charge of this process changed jobs. Their vacancy was filled in 2021 and the process has now restarted.
Who has the “right” to determine the future of the park?
As the land managers of LHRP, Snohomish County is responsible for the present and future of the park. We make design and planning decisions based on best practices, our experience and expertise, goals created from public input in the Parks & Recreation Visioning Plan every six years, input from public meetings and comments, Snohomish County code, comprehensive plans, data, national best practices, innovation, climate resiliency and environmental stewardship. The guidance documents we use to inform our decisions are approved by County Council and the Executive. We use park planning experts, consultants, county staff, specialists, and the public input in every park project and for the LHRP Preferred Plan process.
Are bikers being excluded from Lord Hill?
No, bikers are not being excluded from Lord Hill Park. Multi-use and shared bike/hiker trails are still part of the Preferred Plan. However, not every style of mountain biking is compatible with Lord Hill for a variety of reasons. Lord Hill lends itself best to cross-country, natural trails both in terms of terrain and as a shared park.
We are taking a holistic and long-term look at how the whole trail system is operating for both how recreation uses interact with each other and with the environment. Many trails, whether multi-use, hiker-only, shared bike/hiker or shared equestrian/hiker may be changed to create a more safe, enjoyable, and sustainable cohesive system.
Is having bike-only trails safer than shared bike/hiker trails?
There are established national trail standards for shared bike/hiker trails that are safe, enjoyable and sustainable for all users, including standards from both the US Forest Service (USFS) and the International Mountain Bike Alliance (IMBA). For trails that would be shared bike/hiker, the trails will be modified to meet these trail standards.
Why are you not adding any additional parking?
As we note in our goals for the preferred plan process, we want to manage Lord Hill’s role and capacity as a regional park while preserving the environment and natural character of the park. Keeping a limit on the amount of parking available allows us to better control the volume of users in the park at any given time. That is the best way for us to preserve this natural resource for generations to come.
Have incidents in the park been documented? If so, how can someone have access?
Yes, there have been some incidents in the park that have been documented. What is meant by an “incident” can vary greatly and are handled on a case-by-case basis. For details, please file a public records request.
Have you developed or are you promoting “high speed” trails for mountain bikers?
No. The mountain bike trails in LHRP are mainly for beginner and intermediate level riders. We cannot put a speed limit on these soft-surface trails. There is no county code addressing non-motorized trail speed limits, and non-motorized speed limits are not a soft-surface trail standard and are not enforceable, as feet, horses and mountain bikes do not have speedometers. We are designing trails to ensure trail intersections are clearly signed and traffic is alerted to slow down. We ask that all trail users share the trails with respect. See the "Education" tab for trail etiquette education resources.
Who enforces rules and regulations at Lord Hill Regional Park?
Our Snohomish County Park Rangers patrol Lord Hill Regional Park regularly, along with the other facilities they patrol. We encourage park users to follow all rules and regulations, respect other park and trail users and follow right-of-way etiquette on the multi-use trails. If you would like to report an issue, please call: 425-388-6600 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read park rules here. Learn more about education on the "Education" tab.
Is Snohomish County building a new bike park?
Snohomish County is committed to providing more mountain biking amenities and supporting mountain biking as a growing sport in the county. While our current parks don't provide enough space for the sport, our long-term vision is to find a dedicated place for mountain biking to help reduce user conflicts at Lord Hill. This is still some time away, since it is currently in the idea phase. Funding and other critical steps are being identified. Snohomish County Parks is looking at currently owned sites such as the undeveloped property off Dubuque Road near Flowing Lake and other areas for potential mountain bike amenities. If these sites are not feasible, the parks division is interested in acquiring property that could be an excellent location for mountain biking. Balancing environmental and community impact is essential when assessing any of these properties for future plans.
How will Lord Hill Regional Park change with the Preferred Plan process?
With feedback from community members, there will be some changes to dedicated trail types. There will be various types of trails:
- General shared-use/multi-use (all forms on non-motorized recreation)
- Hiker only trails
- Hiker/equestrian trails
- Biker/hiker trails
To see the final Preferred Plan for the park, please join us at the June 2022 public meeting. Park users will not change, and there will continue to be trails available for nature enthusiasts, walkers, hikers, equestrian riders, birders, mountain bikers etc.
Other planned updates include:
- Improved wayfinding signage and plan
- Addressing parking issues
The park is free now. Will you start charging for use? Will Lord Hill Regional Park be turned into a “national bike-only attraction” to fund the Parks & Recreation Division?
No. Lord Hill Regional Park (LHRP) is planned to remain free for the public to use and is not being turned into a monetized bike-only park. County officials and park staff are continuing the Preferred Plan process to preserve LHRP as a multi-use public park for present and future generations.
What will happen when the plan is completed?
Once the planning phase is complete, park planners will then create a list of potential projects to be completed within the park which we will work to implement in the coming years. These could include:
- New trails
- Realigning existing trails to meet safety and recreation needs identified in the plan
- Projects responding to parking capacity concerns
- Continuing routine maintenance projects that happen within the park
If larger projects are identified that will need additional funding, we could identify projects that might need dedicated funding or grants and apply for funding opportunities for these.
How will you maintain the safety of the trails for all users?
Ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience in the park is our priority. We are improving safety throughout the park in many ways including through the design of our trails and improved wayfinding. Following the example of many other successful trail systems that accommodate multiple types of recreation, we will be reclassifying many of the trails to create a system where shared-use trails connect users to trails designated for specific recreational use such as hiking, riding horses, or mountain biking. This allows visitors to experience the park as a whole, but also helps minimize conflict on trails not designed to support multiple types of recreation. Trail intersections are another area of focus to improve sightlines and signage. A comprehensive wayfinding and signage plan with updated trail maps and better indicators throughout the park of trail names, type of trail, and distance to points of interest will also help park users and emergency services to better navigate the park.
How will you enhance protections for the environment and wildlife?
Of Lord Hill’s nearly1,500 acres, over 75% are undeveloped natural areas and that will not change with the new plan. There are many ponds, streams, wetlands and other critical areas throughout the park, and we strive to protect them now and into the future. As new trails are proposed and existing trails are evaluated over the years, we will do our best to route trails away from sensitive habitat. Where the community has expressed a recreation priority and we need to have a trail cross a stream, for example, critical area studies are done and mitigation is provided. Parks also works with our Surface Water Management division and the Snohomish County Healthy Forest Project to continue habitat improvements along the Snohomish River.
Will hikers/equestrian/bikers be allowed on every trail?
Not every user will be allowed on every trail, but there will be trails available for all user types. There will be various types of trails:
- General shared-use/multi-use (all forms of non-motorized recreation)
- Hiker-only trails
- Biker/hiker trails
Do you have more questions about LHRP and the PPP? We want to hear from you! Please email them to Emily Griffith.