Foothills Trail interrupted near Buckley

A tree fell across the popular trail, damaging a relatively new bridge between Buckley and South Prairie.

A popular section of the Foothills Trail lost a battle with Mother Nature and, for an uncertain amount of time, will be off-limits.

A relatively new pin-pile bridge was damaged earlier this month by a falling tree, meaning the continuous 4.4-mile stretch of pavement between Buckley and South Prairie is no longer passable. The trail is open on both sides of the damaged section, however.

Engineers have been on the scene assessing the damage and determining a fix, according to Brianne Blackburn, trails coordinator with Pierce County Parks. As of last week there was no timeline for getting repairs done, she said.

The pin-pile bridge, covering 3,000 linear feet, was celebrated during a ribbon-cutting event in May 2018 that highlighted the completion of the Buckley-to-South Prairie segment of the Foothills Trail. Part of that project was the replacement of the “switchback bridge,” which had been damaged by a falling tree.

The current damage is just one thing trail users have to consider these days. Also near Buckley, construction crews are installing a temporary bridge on state Route 162, a span that crosses directly over the Foothills Trail. When situations warrant, the trail is closed to the many walkers, bicyclists, equestrians and skaters who use the trail.

Blackburn said those closures cannot be announced because they are “temporary and intermittent.” Also, they are dictated by the state Department of Transportation, the lead agency on the bridge project.