Foothills Trail Flood

* Enumclaw North * Enumclaw South * Enumclaw Undeveloped Section *

* Buckley North * Buckley South * Cascade Junction Trail * C J Trail 2 * Cascade Junction Bridge *

* Carbonado * Wilkeson * South Prairie East * South Prairie West * Orting East * Orting West *

* Other Users * Volunteers * Foothills Trail Coalition * Foothills Trail Map * Flooded Foothills Trail *

* Introduction * Wheels in the Garden * Wheels Outside the Garden * Foothills TOT *


Foothills Trail Flood, December 13, 2010

This year's Foothills Trail flood was much tamer than the ones in 2008 (below) and 2009, but still made for an exciting ride.

The overflow of the wetlands created a sideways current as well as deep water.


Foothills Trail Flood, November 12, 2008

On November 12, 2008, several rivers in the area flodded. Skies cleared the following morning, so I decided to see how the Foothills trail fared. The road from South Prairie to Orting was closed by deep water, but the trail remained open.

The converted rail bridge over South Prairie Creek ("creek" might be a minimalist descriptor) is the current eastern terminis of the Foothills Trail. The water level is usually about eight feet below the bridge.

The creek had dropped several feet during the night, leaving debris piled up against the anchored picnic tables and a thick layer of mud in Veterans' Park. Engineers from the U.S. Geological Survey monitor the flow from the highway bridge.

A much worse flood a month later placed tree trunks and roots on topof the tables.

Despite the ominous creek, I headed out onto the trail, with no signs of the flooding other than a few damp spots. That situation soon changed.
A deep layer of mud is the first sign of flooding on the trail. These four inches were deposited on the pavement the night before.
In a few places, South Prairie Creek is actualy higher than the trail, at least during flood stage. The brush and a soggy bank work like a dike.

Anywhere there is an opening, the silty water pours through dumps over the embankment on the opposite side.

I venture through slowly, feeling the cold water rise above the level of my seat bottom.

I reach the other side and turn back for a closer look. The current moves quite fast across the trail, which acts as a spillway off the old railroad grade.

In the flood a month later, this section of the trail was gone and a long stretch closed.

The front wheels pull as I first head into the fastest current, but even out once there is equal pressure on the front and back of the them.

Erosion is beginning in one spot. Hopefully the water will drain before it reaches the pavement.

A month later, a Pineapple Express storm brought a deluge of warm rain and mountain snowmelt for a much worse flood.  
The trail closure below prevented entry into the area pictured above.  Below that is the reason.