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Trailhead Direct Restarts Bus Service to Hiking Trails

Forget parking: The peaks just off I-90 become much more accessible with seasonal public transportation.

By Taylor McKenzie Gerlach May 24, 2022

Just keep your muddy boots off the bus seats, hikers.

Nothing ruins a serene day in nature like fighting for a trailhead parking spot. Starting May 28, North Bend–bound Seattleites can skip the highway slog and parking lot shuffle thanks to King County Metro's Trailhead Direct, a seasonal bus service.

A 32-seat bus departs from the Capitol Hill Link station every half hour on weekends and select mid-week holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day). Service starts at 7:39am each active day, and buses wind through stops in downtown Seattle and Eastgate Station in Bellevue before depositing summit seekers at the trailheads of Mount Teneriffe, Mount Si, and Little Si an hour later.

Bus-powered trips require a bit of careful planning, as the last Seattle-bound buses depart from the trio of trailheads before 7pm. Trailhead Direct rides will run throughout the summer and give their final lift on September 11.

Dogs and bikes are welcome aboard, but the latter are only permitted at the East Sunset Way Trailhead, a hefty 17 mile ride from the closest trailhead stop. Buses are wheelchair accessible, but trails less so. While masks are still recommended on the trailhead transport, they are no longer required.

Aside from parking peace of mind, the public transit pilot project seeks to ease congestion, provide an eco-friendly alternative to steering gas-guzzlers into natural areas, and expand access to popular hiking destinations for those without personal wheels. There’s no need to secure a Discover Pass ($10–30); instead, a $5.50 round-trip adult fare gets hikers' boots on the ground for less than the price of gas. Call it a truly Earth-conscious outing.

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