Saddle Rock Trails Closing Tuesday
The Saddle Rock trail will close for a months-long remediation project Tuesday.
The closure represents the second phase of a project to remove waste rock piles from the popular recreation destination. Phase 1 included waste rock piles on the lower portions of the hill.
City of Wenatchee Capitol Projects Manager Charlotte Mitchell said the closure includes all of the trails on the Saddle Rock parcel as well as the parking spots near the Appleatchee-side entrance (1200 Circle Street).
"We had tried leaving some of the trails open but we were really having trouble getting folks to acknowledge the trail closure barricades." Mitchell said, "They were bypassing them, which is not safe for the hikers or our construction crews."
Trails within the Jacobson Preserve north of Saddle Rock will remain open.
The closure will stretch into at least mid-September and could last as late as October depending on the weather.
"We really respect everybody's patience with this. I know it's not fun to have Saddle Rock closed, but this is short term pain for long term gain." continued Mitchell, "I think folks will be really excited to see the improved trail once we're done with the project."
The project's contractor will also work to improve the trail and the area's drainage. A combination of funds from two Washington State Department of Ecology grants and money from the city government paid for the project. The two state grants totaled $2.1 million.
The 325 acre property that is now owned by the city was for 100 years owned by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Through most of its time owned by the DNR, Saddle Rock was the site of small mining operations. These operations created piles of waste rock that have been contaminating the nearby soil with arsenic and other toxic metals.
After the City of Wenatchee purchased the Saddle Rock Natural Area in 2011, work was continued to figure out how concentrated certain metal contaminants were within the soil. After finding several waste rock piles, work was split between two phases.
Phase 1 was completed in 2019.