Celebrating 20 Years: Mountains to Sound Greenway

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Jim Ellis

I’ll never forget the day that my friend, Jim Ellis, described a “little project” he was working on called the Mountains to Sound Greenway.
The decade was the mid-90’s.

Jim, of course, was the hero who has been credited for cleaning up Lake Washington, creating Metro, bringing us a major convention center and so much more. Jim explained to me a vision he, and a small group of others, shared to procure, protect and enhance a 100-mile corridor of permanent open space lands along Interstate 90 from Seattle to Central Washington.

They wanted to make sure that land was available in perpetuity and they set out to realize their vision.

Map of Greenway

In 1990, the Issaquah Alps Trails Club organized a 5-day march from Snoqualmie Pass to the Seattle waterfront to raise awareness of the need to protect the wild areas outside the city for scenic, recreational, and ecological benefits. The next year, the marchers formed a legal nonprofit group and Jim Ellis was the Trust’s founding president.

Now, 20 years later, thanks to the vision and foresight of those who marched in 1990, the Mountains to Sound Greenway stretches 100 miles from the shores of Puget Sound to Kittitas County along the interstate and the Snoqualmie and Yakima Rivers, and includes nine cities and two counties.

View from Beacon Hill.

The most recent development along the Greenway is right here in Seattle at Dr. Jose Rizal Park on the west slope of Beacon Hill. A 12-foot wide pavement trail is being constructed and will connect the I-90 bike trail to City streets. It will eventually run to Beacon Avenue South, go west on Holgate, and end on the waterfront trail. Most importantly, perhaps, is that the new trail will bring new activity and life to what is currently known as “the Jungle.”

This just goes to show what can happen when a group of motivated citizens band together and work toward making their dream a reality. All it takes is an idea, leadership, and perseverance.