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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, back for summer 2023.

By Taylor McKenzie Gerlach May 12, 2023

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 13, 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 First Hill, on downtown Seattle, and at Eastgate Station in Bellevue before hitting the North Bend Park and Ride and then 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 4.

Dogs and bikes are welcome aboard, but the latter are only permitted on-trail at the East Sunset Way Trailhead, a hefty 17 mile ride from the closest trailhead stop. Buses are wheelchair accessible, but trails less so. Non-service dogs are at the discretion of the driver.

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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