2021 Lord Hill Regional Park Public Meeting Presentation Materials

For additional information on the background, description, FAQs, updates and more detail about the Lord Hill Regional Park Preferred Plan Process, please visit the project page.


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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

  1. Lord Hill Regional Park
  2. Preferred Plan Process
  3. Project Goals
  4. Project Status

Lord Hill Regional Park (LHRP) 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. 


The hill was named after Mitchell Lord, who purchased eighty acres on the hill in 1879 and homesteaded in 1884. Beginning in 1985, Snohomish County Parks secured the majority of the property from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Washington State Parks through reconveyance action.  


As one of the largest parks in our county parks system at nearly 1,500 acres, Lord Hill Regional Park 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. We know that with increasing use we need to adapt our trail system to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all users, whether they prefer to walk or ride.

OVERVIEW NARRATIVE

  1. A Zoned Approach
  2. Updated Overview Map

The proposed mountain bike and equestrian designated trails will give users a more enjoyable experience, make the trail system safer for all users, and significantly reduce emergency agency responses by establishing a trail use system with waypoints and signage. This may make the park more attractive to additional users, but the available parking options will dictate the carrying capacity of the park, and a designated trail system will expand options for all users while reducing contact between types of use.  


As the use of Lord Hill Regional Park has grown, the Parks & Recreation Division has heard many concerns about safely sharing the trails between user groups, especially between the equestrian and mountain bike communities. To address these concerns as well as in anticipation that the use of Lord Hill Regional Park will continue to grow, zones focusing on one type of recreation will be implemented. This updated trail system map follows these same principles already established.  


By creating zoned areas of trails focused on one type of recreation (see map below), there are multiple benefits which include:


  • Reduction of potential conflict between users by creating dedicated trails for different groups. This concentrates the types of recreation use in areas of the park and reduces the number of trails where multiple user groups may come into conflict.  
  • Optimization of trails within a recreation zone for safety and enjoyment by user group. For example, creating a wider path cleared down to mineral soil for equestrian use, which is not the approach for hiking-only use.  
  • Better control for interactions between user groups by signing intersections of dedicated trails with multi-use trails. 

Multi-use trails are still the largest category of trail throughout the park and connect users to these zones and to points of interest. They need to be able to accommodate all types of users and handle the most traffic.  


The east zone (purple), is focused on equestrian trails, which the equestrian community has expressed they are interested in sharing with hikers. The east area of the park is one of the quietest in the park, providing a more peaceful trail experience.  


The southern zone (blue), is the area closest to the Snohomish River, and as such, all trails will be evaluated for critical areas and impact to be sensitive to the environment and habitat. Most trails are planned to be hiker-only, but some trails that connect to the river are planned as multi-use, as access to the river has been a priority for the community and all user groups.   


The northwest zone (pink), is focused on mountain bike trails. Some trails will be for mountain bikes only, and some will be shared mountain bike/hiker trails. The terrain in this zone is the best suited for the loops of trails mountain bikers prefer.  


Hiker-only trails extend throughout the park but are mainly focused in the central and southern areas. There have historically been a number of hiker-only trails, especially near critical habitat where only narrow trails are feasible.  LH_Preferred_Alternative_Update_Zones

WAYFINDING AND SIGNAGE PLAN

Modifying the trail system map to reduce conflict will help address the safety and use concerns at Lord Hill Regional Park, but cannot solve every problem. Another aspect of the Preferred Plan that will improve safety and user experience at Lord Hill Regional Park will be a wayfinding and signage plan. 


A new trail system map that reflects the outcome of the Preferred Plan process will be posted at the park, posted on our website, and circulated online. The updated map will show which trails are designated for each user group, helping visitors navigate the park and understand which trails are open to them. 


Signposts at trail intersections will indicate trail name, which users are allowed on the trail, and distance to relevant points of interest, such as the nearest parking lot. If you’ve been to Paradise Valley Conservation Area, these may look familiar! 


Yield signs throughout the park, and other educational signage at the trailheads, will alert users to how to share the trails safely with multiple user groups.  


Signage along trails and at intersections will alert users of upcoming intersections, trail crossings, trail merging, and other safety considerations.

Updated signage throughout the park will also help emergency services more quickly navigate the park to reach those who need assistance.


Signage Compilation


TRAIL DESIGN STANDARDS

Snohomish County Parks uses trail standards developed by the United States Forest Service as our primary guidelines for trail design, construction, and maintenance. When appropriate, Parks also uses guidelines, standards, best practices, etc. from other organizations as additional guidelines.


At Lord Hill Regional Park, we primarily use the United States Forest Service standards as guidelines, which have detailed guidelines for hiking, equestrian, and bicycle trails. In some instances, International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) guidelines will be cross-referenced for trails that support mountain bike use, as IMBA has developed specialized guidance focused on creating and maintaining sustainable mountain biking opportunities.


TRAIL INTERSECTION DESIGN

There are many safety considerations that need to be examined when two trails meet, especially in instances where trail designations are different (for example, where a bike-only trail meets a multi-use trail). Some of these include but are not limited to: visual awareness of the intersection from both trails, slowed speed of users, and visibility of approaching traffic.


As part of the Preferred Plan process, all trail intersections are being evaluated for potential improvements that will help increase safety. There are many mechanisms that can be used, and each intersection may require different improvements depending on the designated use of the trails and how well the intersection currently functions.  


Some potential strategies include:


  • Signage, such as yield signs, slow speed signs, pedestrian ahead signs, and signs warning of trail crossings or merging ahead  
  • Alteration of the trail alignment such that a trail does not intersect a perpendicular trail directly, but instead winds back on itself and ideally directs users uphill, slowing speeds before the intersection 
  • Physical barriers across trails before an intersection prompting users to slow or dismount before an intersection