Three years ago, the state shut down a popular set of trails for dirt motorbikes and off-road vehicles on thousands of acres of public land between Gold Bar and Index over worries that riders were damaging the environment and concerns about public safety.
This week, the state opened a new 1.4-mile loop for motorcycle use and invited local groups to test it.
"It's better than I expected," said Neil Stamp, 38, of Bothell. "There's still more work to do, but they are on the right track."
It's the first portion of 26 miles of trails being built by the Department of Natural Resources. Half of the trails are designed for motorized use, while the other half are intended for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.
The work for the first phase of the motorized trail is expected to cost about $3.6 million.
While the work is being completed, the state wants to limit the amount of time riders use the new trails. They're capping the number of days to seven this month. They plan to add more days in September, DNR's spokeswoman Diana Lofflin said.
People who want to ride the open trail must have a Discover Pass and call the state department to make a reservation at 360-770-4436. Currently, the trail has parking space for only 30 vehicles.
Trail users are being asked to fill out a survey to determine whether changes are needed and what they want to see in future trails, she said.
DNR wants to build trails that are challenging, safe and fun, Lofflin said.
"If we need to make changes, now is the time to do it," DNR's district manager Allen McGuire said.
Riders returning to Reiter Foothills earlier this week were happy that it was open again. But their opinion on the work was mixed. Some riders praised the design, saying it was challenging with fun turns. Others were concerned that those same turns, as well as rocks and logs, made the ride dangerous.
The consensus seemed to be that it is a promising start.
"It's in an early stage, so the turns are not exactly motor friendly," said Jeff Tasky, 49, of Stanwood. "It's a good workout."
"The layout is great, but the logs make it dangerous," said Edmonds rider Thomas Guinasso, 44.
Everett rider Alex Davies, 20, said the trail still need some tweaks, but this is just a taste with more trails opening in the future.
"This is not a perfect trail, but there's not going to be a perfect one," he said.
The DNR is continuing work on other trails this summer. Crews are adding another trail that is two-thirds of a mile long for motorcycle use this month. Work on trails for 4-by-4 jeeps, ATVs and quads is scheduled to start in September.
Work on the non-motorized trails is scheduled to start next year.
Reserve a spot
People who want to ride on the new motorcycle trail at Reiter Foothills are required to reserve a spot by calling the Department of Natural Resources at 360-770-4436. People need to leave a message with their name, date they want to go and a phone number to get confirmation. A Discover Pass is required.
Reiter Foothills is open on weekdays from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 8, 16, 17, 21 and 28. The trail is also open one weekend -- from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 18 and 19.
For more information, go to www.dnr.wa.gov.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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