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Yes, hiking. No, traffic. Trailhead Direct offers car-free travel from Seattle to the mountains

Hoping to get to the mountains this summer while avoiding the hassle of driving and the challenge of parking in overfilled trailhead lots?

King County's popular Trailhead Direct bus service from Seattle to some of King County's most popular mountain trails kicks off Saturday, May 25, and runs through the summer every weekend through Sunday, Sept. 15. The 2024 season includes service on the Fourth of July weekend, as well as Labor Day weekend.

The transit-to-trails service provides rides every half hour to the super popular Mount Si, as well as the return, after a two-year absence, of hourly trips to the Issaquah Alps.

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The Issaquah Alps loop was suspended in 2022 and 2023 due to insufficient staffing, said King County Public Information Officer Al Sanders.

“There’s been a real groundswell to get the Issaquah Alps route back up and operating,” Sanders said. “It is one that people did enjoy, and we are glad that we have the staffing to do it.”

Little Si trail
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The Issaquah Alps bus departs from the Mount Baker Transit Center on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle every hour and features stops at the Margaret’s Way trailhead, Squak Mountain State Park, Chirico Trail – Poo Poo Point, High School Trail, and the East Sunset Way trailhead.

Trailhead Direct's seventh season to Mount Si features trips every half hour from Capitol Hill and Downtown Seattle to Mount Si, Little Si, and the Mount Teneriffe trailhead.

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The service was launched in 2017 in response to overcrowding at popular trailhead parking lots, particularly on sunny summer weekends and during the holidays. The service is operated by King County Metro in partnership with King County Parks, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and with promotional support from Amazon.

"This collaboration helps ensure that every resident and every visitor can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of our region’s trails, parks, and natural wonders,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a statement.

caption: Mount Si, Washington.
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Mount Si, Washington.

Since the service began, more than 78,500 people have taken advantage of Trailhead Direct, including 11,400 passengers in 2023.

People who want more information are encouraged to use the county's "Trip Planner" for more details about transit stops, routes, and schedules. The 14- to 32-seat busses include a limited number of bike racks.

The service costs $2.75 for adults, $1 for those with ORCA LIFT or RRFP cards. Youth 18 years old or younger ride for free.

caption: Wildflowers atop West Tiger 3 in the Issaquah Alps.
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Wildflowers atop West Tiger 3 in the Issaquah Alps.
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