Foothills Trail Closed near Orting

Thursday, February 6th 2:00pm, out of an abundance of caution Parks will expand the closure of the Foothills Trail from the City of Orting east to the town of South Prairie. The height of the Carbon River at Voight’s Creek is the main consideration in this decision


Foothills Coalition Annual Meeting Dinner

Trail Supporters and Community Members

Please consider joining us on Thursday, January 23, 2020, for our 30th annual dinner and meeting of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition at the Farm 12 Restaurant & Events Center located at 3303 8th Ave. SE in Puyallup. (At the Historic Van Lierop Bulb Farm and across the street from the Foothills Meeker East Puyallup Trailhead)

The purpose of this event is to bring trail enthusiasts together to visit & enjoy dinner together, celebrate our accomplishments, and hear about what’s going on with building trails.

Doors will open at 5:30 pm for registration and socializing with dinner served promptly at 6:00 pm. There will be a celebration video during dinner, a brief business meeting, presentations by the Pierce County Parks Director and Puyallup Parks Director along with a silent auction and a few chances to win a contest or two. There will be a no host bar with everything wrapping up around 8:30 pm.

In order to make sure we have enough meals to serve everyone pre-registration is important. The cost of the dinner is $35 each (cash, check, credit card) which will be collected at the door. Please RSVP no later than January 17th to Bill Hilton at or (253) 302-1104.

Stuart Scheuerman President

Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition


The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition has lost a dear friend Don Partington

The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition has lost a dear friend, an all-around good guy and our work party hero, Don Partington.

Don has been active in the Foothills Coalition for over 30 years and the work party chief for most of those years. You name it and Don has done it, from spreading gravel to fill potholes, cleaning out ditches to trimming back vegetation so the general public, R2R runners and all users can easily use and enjoy the trail. There has not been anyone else that has done so much to keep the trail open and useable.

A memorial/celebration of life will be held for Don on Saturday March 28th, 2020 at Farm 12 event center in Puyallup (historical Van Lierop Bulb Farm) across the street from the Foothills East Puyallup/ Meeker Trailhead. Stay tuned for more details on this event.

See The News Tribune’s Obituary and treasured photos of Don and Buzz below

Don and Buzz at Cascade Junction

Don and Buzz with New Coalition Truck


Donald J. Partington
February 3, 1958 – September 29, 2019

Whether he was cuddling a new baby or kitten, recounting a funny story, spending time in the woods, or starting a new project, Don expressed constant joy in his life, and it was infectious. That is the gift he leaves to all who knew and loved him.

Donald James Partington was born February 3, 1958, in Lawrence, Massachusetts to Lewis T. and Josephine M. Partington. He died as a result of sudden cardiac arrest in Puyallup, WA on September, 29, 2019, surrounded by loved ones. Don grew up in Georgetown and Sudbury, MA and graduated in 1976 from Lincoln Sudbury High School, acquiring the long-held nickname “Linc”, while spending a semester in high school working in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and graduated from Green River Community College in Auburn, WA, with Associates degrees in Water and Wastewater Management. He worked for King County, WA in Wastewater Management for 27 years.

Don married Robin High Partington on July 5th, 1986. Don and Robin met fortuitously in May, 1980, on a backpack trip in Olympic National Park, while he was visiting a friend attending college at University of Oregon, where Robin was also a student. After spending a year in Oregon, Don returned to Massachusetts and Robin subsequently graduated and took a job with the Lewiston, ID school district. In 1982, Don, an avid cyclist since childhood, set out from Massachusetts with a friend to cycle across the country. He stopped to visit Robin after nearly 3,000 miles en route to the Pacific Ocean and the rest is history. They spent 39 wonderful years together, filled with adventuring and raising their two fine sons, Daniel and Alexander.

As an active member of the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition for over 30 years, Don served on the Board of Directors, coordinated trail work parties, and enjoyed countless hours of trail building and maintenance. Don was also on the Board of the Russell Family Foundation Puyallup Watershed Initiative, and active with the PWI’s Active Transportation Community of Interest. Don was an active member of the Thea Foss Waterway Seaport Museum and worked as a volunteer in the Heritage Boat Shop that builds wooden vessels and restores and repairs vessels displayed in existing exhibits or collections. A recent project he loved was building a beautiful wooden kayak.

Don had an incredible ability to create, problem solve, repair and re-purpose. Basically, he could figure out just about anything and never saw any challenge as insurmountable, including his health. He would just find a way to fix it, re-purpose it, go around it, or live with it. He loved woodworking and made beautiful wooden boxes, shelving, and gorgeous live edge cedar benches that always drew high bids for the causes he donated them to. He also picked up welding in the last several years and enjoyed being mentored and improving his skills. Projects were his core. He described his work in the garage as “tinkering” or “puttering” and he had to have at least one project going, usually several at the same time.

We will remember Don most for his unfailing kindness, his ability to really listen, his delightful sense of humor, the boundless joy he found in his life, and of course, those long and legendary hugs. Loving and experiencing the outdoors was an enormous part of Don’s life that he enthusiastically shared with his family and friends. He had a reverence for old growth trees and made a point to thank them whenever he had an opportunity. His many outdoor interests included canoeing, kayaking, bicycling, hiking, and camping. Don continued to actively enjoy the outdoors, despite his increasing mobility challenges due to Muscular Dystrophy. He continued to cycle and transitioned to an electric assist bicycle when pedaling became more challenging.

Don was preceded in death by his parents and a nephew, Matthew Munson. Surviving family includes his wife, Robin, of Lake Tapps, WA; son Daniel and spouse Alexandra, and son Alexander, all of Olympia, WA; his sisters Margaret Munson of Franklin, MA, and Ruth Callahan of Gardner MA; brothers Andy Partington of Brandon, VT and David Partington of Worcester, MA; and numerous extended family and cherished friends.

Memorial donations can be made to the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition, Washington Trails Association, Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Mt. Rainier National Park, Thea Foss Waterway Seaport Museum, or an environmental charity of your choice.

Foothills Trail Section is Open!

Some very good news from Pierce County Parks’ North Region Manager, Kyle Wintermute, in time for your Thanksgiving festivities;  “Foothills Trail pin pile bridge section is fully repaired and open for use !!” Thanks to the community for their patience during the repairs and a special thanks to our partners at Pierce County Public Works for completing these repairs before the holiday weekend!.

Bridging Communities from King County TV

A nice video that talks about the connection of Foothills trail from King County to Pierce County.


**For an HD version, click on the link below. Change settings of video to 720 HD

Foothills Trail president Gordon ‘Buzz’ Grant made converting rails to trails his life’s mission

A good man has passed. Last week, the acting president of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails coalition died in his home in Puyallup.

See The News Tribune’s article with the above named title:

Foothills Trail president Gordon ‘Buzz’ Grant made converting rails to trails…

A wonderful slide show was made in his memory.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time. He will be missed.


LOOKING for a Foothills Coalition Courtesy Patrol Leader!

Foothills Coalition Courtesy Patrol Leader
By Bill Hilton, Editor of Foothills Rails-To-Trails Coalition Newsletter

The Rails-to-Trails Foothills Coalition is looking for a Courtesy Patrol Leader.

The Foothills Coalition would like to re-establish the Courtesy Patrol with the purpose of
providing information and assistance to users of the Foothills Trail while walking, cycling,
rollerblading, running or riding horseback on the trail.

The Courtesy Patrol was created in 2002 to encourage trail courtesy and provide trail information
to users. Members also assist with special events such as the Foothills Dash, Daffodil Classic
bike ride, the Rainier to Ruston Relay, and the Buckley to Orting Half Marathon. Patrol hours
and locations are optional. Members wear bright, yellow vests which identify them as Courtesy

Courtesy Patrol members previously met the 3rd Saturday of each month at High Cedars Golf
Course, 149th St. Ct. E., Orting. A no-host breakfast starts at 8 AM and the casual meeting at 9
AM with a free-for-all discussion about the past, present and future of the Courtesy Patrol. Guest
speakers and training sessions are often included.

If you are interested or would like more information please contact John Selby at (253) 841-1767

SR 162 Spiketon Creek Bridge near Buckley closes Thursday, Aug. 16…

SR 162 Spiketon Creek Bridge near Buckley closes Thursday, Aug. 16, four days ahead of schedule…

This should not affect the Foothills trail itself.

Good news for continuing the path!


County planning to finish Enumclaw trail, build bridge over White River

$2.8 million was allotted in the state legislature’s capital budget this year to jumpstart the project, which is expected to be compete between 2020 and 2021.

The Foothills Trail is a hot commodity these days, with still-new pavement in Pierce County, active plans for improvements on the King County side and – after years of waiting – the promise of a bridge connecting Enumclaw and Buckley.

…READ MORE… at link below

Sneak Peek of new section of trail from South Prairie to Buckley!

A great article (if we do say so ourselves) in The News Tribune about the new section of trail in Buckley. It will connect South Prairie trail with Buckley. The aim is to complete it by the end of 2017.

Adventurer of the Week: Foothills Trail Coalition president Buzz Grant

A recent store in the Tacoma News Tribune showcased the coalition’s president, Buzz Grant!


  • Grant is in his sixth year as Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition president
  • The June 4 Rainier to Ruston Relay is organization’s biggest fundraiser
  • Coalition gave $50,000 to trail extension project that starts June 7

Read more here:

Groundbreaking Ceremony to connect trail between South Prairie and Buckley!


A Photo Tribute and Fond Farewell to Dr. Ernie Bay

Taken from Marian and Jerry Betzer and the Fennel Creek Trail Advocates’ compilation.

Ernie Bay Tribute Image 1

Dr. Ernie Bay: Tireless leader of the Foothills Trail Coalition and respected advocate for Pierce County Trails

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday, March 18, 2006 Foothills Trail Dedication of East Puyallup Trailhead – Meeker to McMillan Section Guest Speaker Dr. Ernie Bay, President Emeritus of Foothills Trails Coalition


Saturday, March 18, 2006 Foothills Trail Dedication of East Puyallup Trailhead - Meeker to McMillan Section

Saturday, March 18, 2006
Foothills Trail Dedication of East Puyallup Trailhead – Meeker to McMillan Section


Ernie Bay Tribute Image 4

Saturday, March 18, 2006 Foothills Trail Dedication of East Puyallup Trailhead – Meeker to McMillan Section

Saturday, March 18, 2006 Foothills Trail Dedication of East Puyallup Trailhead - Meeker to McMillan Section

Saturday, March 18, 2006 (cont.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006 Foothills Trail Dedication of East Puyallup Trailhead - Meeker to McMillan Section

Saturday, March 18, 2006 (cont.)


June 30, 2007:  Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail Tour

June 30, 2007 Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail TourJune 30, 2007 Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail Tour

June 30, 2007 Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail TourJune 30, 2007 Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail Tour

2014 Victor Falls Park and Viewpoint opens to the public

Ernie Bay Tribute Image 122014 Victor Falls Park and Viewpoint opens to the public

October 23, 2010 Ernie Bay and others receive Exceptional Service Awards from WSTC President Rick Hood during WA State Trails Convention Ernie Bay Tribute Image 14

Hood Some of the Pacific NW sights and scenery users can enjoy while on the Foothills Trail

Some of the Pacific NW sights and scenery users can enjoy while on the Foothills Trail

Ernie Bay Tribute Image

Some of the Pacific NW sights and scenery users can enjoy while on the Foothills Trail

Some of the Pacific NW sights and scenery users can enjoy while on the Foothills Trail

Some of the Pacific NW sights and scenery users can enjoy while on the Foothills Trail

More sights along the Foothills Trails


Views along the Foothills Trail Some of the Pacific NW sights and scenery users can enjoy while on the Foothills Trail

Ernie Bay Tribute Image 21

Photos and tribute courtesy of Marian Betzer Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail Advocate 2002-2015

Views along the Foothills Trail

Views along the Foothills Trail

Views along the Foothills Trail






Views along the Foothills Trail

Photos and tribute courtesy of Marian Betzer Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail Advocate 2002-2015


Ernie Bay Tribute Image 26

Ernie Bay TributeErnie Bay Tribute

Photos and tribute courtesy of Marian Betzer

Fennel Creek Watershed and Trail Advocate 2002-2015

Another tribute to The Late Ernie Bays.


Puyallup’s Ernie Bay was Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition’s first president

Bay was founding member of Friends of the Puyallup River Walk

Inspired others to become trail advocates”

Read more here:

Ernie Bay passes at 86. Pivotal member of the community and trails movement.

The Foothills Trail lost one of its most ardent champions March 18 with the death of  Ernie Bay at age 86.

No one called him Dr. Ernest Clayton Bay, even though he was a former Cornell University entomology professor. He was “Ernie” to everyone.  The first part of his email address was “bugtrail,” reflecting two of his life’s great passions.

Ernie, who died in palliative care following a stroke he suffered at home, was the first president of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition.  He was part of a core group of trail visionaries who helped persuade the Pierce County Council to approve the Foothills Trail project.

Ernie was a founding member of the coalition’s Courtesy Patrol, a group of volunteers who rode the trail in daffodil-colored jackets to assist people using the trail and keep an eye out for problems.  He wore his yellow jacket almost everywhere to help promote the trail.

Ernie was a member of the coalition’s board since its conception. In recent years he was honored with lifetime achievement awards for his contributions to environmental causes and community service in Puyallup.

“Ernie was one of a kind,” noted coalition President Buzz Grant. “No one was more devoted to making the Foothills Trail a success.  We’ll miss him, but the trail will definitely be part of his legacy.”

A celebration of Ernie’s life will be held at 10 a.m. May14 at Almendinger Hall at the WSU Extension Service Center in Puyallup, at the intersection of Fruitland Avenue and East 72nd Avenue.

-Written in memory of Ernie by Dave Seago

New Race Director for our upcoming races!

Rainier to Ruston and the B & O Half-Marathon have a new race director! Here is a great story in The News Tribune about the new race director, Sabrina Seher. Both of these races are the main fundraisers for the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition.

Foothills Trail Emergency Levee Repair Starting Week of November 9


The onslaught of rain these past few days caused damage on a section of the levee between Voight Creek Bridge and 197th Ave. E. in front of Zirkel Access Road.  Pierce County Public Works will shut down this section of trail.  The project will start next week and take 2-3 days to repair.  The trail will be open after working hours and over the weekend if deemed safe.

News from the Forevergreen Trails Conference

Oct.14, 2015:

Tony Tipton, Director of Pierce County Parks and Recreation Services announced that Pierce County had acquired a “Possession and Use Agreement” for the remaining landowners in the section of the Foothills Trail from Buckley to South Prairie. This means that Pierce County can use the land for planning, construction and use as a part of the Foothills Trail.

This construction will be the end of a major push by the Foothills Rails-To-Trails Coalition to complete this section of the Foothills Trail, we started almost 5 years ago.

At some point in the near future the Foothills Rails-To-Trails Coalition will give Pierce County $50,000, being our share of the partial match for the WWRP grant of $2.75 million, along with a match from Pierce County of $2.75 million which will be the money required to build this section of the Trail. Your Coalition will gladly hand over our promised $50,000 partial match for the grant. This $50,000 was a great help to the grant committee of WWRP showing public support for the Foothills Trail project as far as the RCO and WWRP was concerned and a part of giving extra points in the grant process.

Mr. Tipton also informed us that the former FEMA bridge that was destroyed in November of 2014, will be replaced as part of this Buckley to South Prairie project. This culvert and the above grants will give us a continuous Foothills Trail from Buckley and the White River to the East Puyallup Trail head, now we need a connection to the Puyallup Riverwalk Trail and across the White River to Enumclaw and then on to Mt. Rainier.

We would hope to have this project completed by the end of 2017


Picnic Shelter Construction Aided by Grant from Puyallup Tribe!

“Veterans Park and those involved with its creation are preparing to celebrate another milestone with the dedication of a new picnic shelter.

The park, located at 802 5th St NE, will host a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. July 31.

Tom Shriver Sr., past commander and judge advocate for American Legion Post 67, is looking forward to the event.

“When we first got Veterans Park established through the (Puyallup) City Council and got the sign put in, then we sat down and figured OK — let’s do a 10-year plan for things we would like to see in the park,” he said.

Near the top of that list was the construction of a picnic shelter….”

Story continued here:

Doug “Doc” Tait Memorial Campaign


Many friends of the Foothills Trail remember Doug Tait, or “Doc” as he was better known, as the “Father of the Foothills Trail.”

More than anyone else in Pierce County, Doc, who was also Buckley’s beloved town doctor for nearly 35 years before he died in 2003, saw the enormous potential in turning abandoned railroad right-of-way into a public recreational trail.

Today’s Foothills Trail is the result of Tait’s vision, dedication and relentless enthusiasm. The trail has grown from a mile-long paved path in Buckley to a popular multi-use, county-owned trail stretching 17 miles from east Puyallup to South Prairie.  Chances are good the trail’s “missing link” between South Prairie and Buckley will be completed in the next two to three years, adding several more miles.

On pleasant sunny days, the trail is busy with joggers, walkers, roller-bladders, fast cyclists, slow cyclists, moms pushing strollers, and dads shepherding small children on their first bikes.  Fishermen use the trail to reach choice fishing spots.  The trail is now treasured as one of the county’s top public recreational assets.

Many of those who worked with Doc Tait to help realize his dream, however, are beginning to pass from the scene.  To keep Tait’s memory alive and permanently honor Tait’s role in founding the trail, a decade-old effort to build a memorial in Buckley is now being renewed with a web-based crowdfunding initiative.

The goal is to use the power of the Internet and social media to raise $18,400 to complete an already-designed memorial plaza in Buckley, to be located on public property near the intersection of Main Street and the present trail. Coincidentally, the memorial will be only a few blocks from the Main Street office where Doc Tait treated generations of Buckley residents.

Those who wish to contribute can visit, enter the search term “Buckley Dr. Tait Memorial” and easily charge their gifts to a credit card.  The website will provide a running total for the fund campaign.

If the drive is successful, organizers Don Partington and Chuck Morrison said, construction of the memorial could be completed by the end of this year.

The plaza will include a 1920’s-era railroad baggage cart, restored by Enumclaw Eagle Scout Tristan Lewis, and a vintage railroad crossing signal, called a wigwag, restored by trail volunteers.  Both elements will recall the railroad heritage associated with today’s trail, which follows the rail line built in 1885 by the Northern Pacific Railroad as part of the nation’s second transcontinental rail route.

A plaque will recount both Tait’s service as a physician – equipped with a fire radio, he was the town’s reliable but unofficial emergency medic – and his work as a tireless champion of saving the abandoned rail corridor for recreational use, not only in Buckley but also throughout Pierce County. Tait relentlessly lobbied local and congressional officials and turned an examining room in his office into a repository for maps, letters and promotional material.

His efforts led to the creation of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition and culminated in voter approval of the county trail project in 1991.

“He gave his whole being to that town and to his vision for the trail,” said Partington, a coalition board member and longtime leader of volunteer work parties on the trail.  “What he did should never be forgotten.”

By Dave Seago