Elevated Nature Trail Story

In 2017, the Adopt A Stream Foundation opened the Northwest Stream Center Elevated Nature Trail to the public for the first time.  Getting everything ready was a major challenge.  

“There is  great wildlife habitat to explore,” says Adopt A Stream Foundation Director Tom Murdoch, “no longer do I need to wear chest waders to get around…now It’s a fantastic place to visit!”

Here’s how it happened: 

October 2013:  $500,000 donation goal met – Thank you to all our wonderful contributors

January 2014: Land Development Activity Permit approved by Snohomish County

February 2014: discovered that costs for materials had risen 25% from the beginning of the campaign

March 2014: value engineering reduces costs and enabling the project to move forward 

March 2014: begin to excavate plants along trail route for replanting and begin to remove invasive plants and discover beautiful landscapes under deadly nightshade – sharpen pencils to figure out costs to extend the trial to view the new landscape.

April – May 2014: Discounts and Donations secured from Diamond Pier Foundations, Simpson Strong Tie, Tacoma Screw, Baker Industries NW, and Bedford Technology

May 2014:  Concrete Diamond PIer Foundations carried out “through the muck” and installed along the the end of the trail route (we wanted to tackle the worst terrain as the weather began to improve), hangers, brackets and screws delivered.

June 2014: #1 of five truckloads of recycled plastic lumber delivered on the 2nd – all but the toe-rails of the first 20% of the end of the Elevated Nature Trail constructed by the end of the day on June 30!

July 2014: 40% of the Elevated Nature Trail is decked at the end of the month!!  New wetland scenes discovered and a decision is made to change the route so that visitors will get to see what we see.

August 2014: Truckload # 3 arrived on the the 7th and all of the concrete piers for the next section are put in place.  On the 21st, we past the Forest Lantern area and began moving to the Frog Pond!

September2014:  60% complete!!

Over 200 visitors stopped by for a “Sneak Peek”of the Elevated Nature Trail on the 13th and enjoyed the walk out to the Frog Pond Crossing as well as seeing into the Trout Stream Exhibit. Several visitors became project sponsors; see Sponsorship Opportunities article below. Truckload #4 arrived on the 17th, then, we began clearing the route for the beginning of the trail and installing concrete piers next to the Trout Stream Crossing.   See the Herald’s coverage.   

  1. October 2014:  65% complete!  We began work on the beginning of the trail in mid-September.  That part of the route goes next to the large pond at the downstream end of the Trout Stream Exhibit 

    and past a larger adjacent pond next to the Headwater Stream Viewpoint to the Cedar Cathedral Viewpoint.  In route, we had to navigate through some very wet ground.

      November is going to be tough with more construction in the wettest of the wet!

  1. November Monsoons 2014: 75% complete!  Tough working conditions did not slow down our Elevated Nature Walk team.  The foundations for the Cedar Cathedral Viewpoint sponsored by Bruce and Carol Johnson were constructed – it will be finished off with 10’-wide decking when the next load of lumber arrives in January.   And the team pushed out to the Salmon Arena Viewpoint area (a great sponsorship opportunity)


  1. December: 85% complete!  We are only 175‘ from the Frog Pond Crossing.  In January and February that connection will be made.  Then we will complete the Frog Pond Crossing and move on to replace the Trout Stream Crossing and the Wetland Crossing bridges – Sponsors Wanted!!!     

Happy Holidays from the Adopt A Stream Foundation on Christmas Eve 2014!                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

  1. January 2015:  95% complete!  


    The sparks were flying  as a hand rail was installed next to a wetland overlook.

      Boardwalk decking pushed to within 110’ of the Frog Pond crossing and our last (we hope truckload of recycled plastic lumber arrived…we will make the east-west loop connection in early February!

Larry Gearheard working on the hand rail


  1. February 2015:  99% complete!  On February 5, we celebrated connecting the east and west sections of the boardwalk by installing “golden screws” in the last deck board. 

Major donor and volunteer Bruce Johnson installs a “Golden Screw”

The hand rail above was completed. 

The failing 1995 log Wetland Crossing Bridge was removed – a major feat.  

And replacement with recycled plastic lumber began.

                   Bridge foundation pier installation

Post and Beams in place.

March 2015: Replacement of the Wetland Crossing Bridge removed in February was completed. 

Construction of a deck and wheel chair accessible ramp was begun next to the Gate House. 

The old log Trout Stream Crossing  bridge was removed, the first layer of gravel was installed between the Wetland Crossing and the Streamwalk Plaza, and Entry Trail modifications for universal accessibility were designed…amazing progress!!  

April 2015: The old log Trout Stream Crossing Bridge was removed and replaced with a new recycled plastic lumber bridge over four steel girders spanning the stream.

  Our construction team worked wonders with the bricks on the Streamwalk Plaza creating a universally accessible connection between the new bridge and the beginning of the Elevated Nature Walk.  A Spring Nature Walk was conducted for 28 visitors on the boardwalk – it exceeded everyone’s expectations!

 The North Family decided to sponsor the Forest Lantern Viewpoint.  The Mill Creek Rotary decided to sponsor construction of the Salmon Arena Viewpoint.  And several deck boards and boardwalk sections gained sponsors.  The Gate House Welcome Deck was also completed in April and now needs a Sponsor. 

May 2015:  The last of more than 50,000 stainless steel screws were installed in the Elevated Nature Walk deck boards (8 screws per board X 5000+ boards)!! This was a tremendous effort by the boardwalk team. Also the Salmon Arena Viewpoint was completed and the first half of the Forest Lantern Viewpoint was constructed…great additions.  

June 2015

The Forest Lantern Viewpoint was completed. A huge amount of invasive plants were attacked and removed.  At the end of June, the Snohomish County Planning Department Inspector paid a visit to examine the Elevated Nature Walk…he said that it was the best boardwalk that he had ever seen!  Construction began the first week of June 2014 and ended the last week of June 2015 – congratulation to everyone involved.  

July  2015

Native Plant Nursery Bridge Crossing construction began using scrap recycled plastic lumber and re-used cedar decking from the old Wetland and Trout Stream Crossing bridges.  Interpretive Signs for the Trout Stream Exhibit Viewing Windows were initiated.

August 2015

The Admissions Window was installed in theGate House.  The Entry Trail was prepped for regrading.

Fall 2015

Interpretive Signs drafted.   Elevated Nature Trail plant management.

Jan – May 2016

Interpretive Signs produced and installed; Trout Stream Exhibit and Entry Trails signs installed. Mutual Material donated 1200 square feet of “Eco Priora” paver bricks  and CalPortland Aggregates donated “sub-drain” gravel delivered by Evergreen Topsoil, Sand and Gravel;  Volunteers began installation of the  “porous pavement” portion of the Entry Trail.

June -July 2016

The porous walkway was extended past the Trout Exhibit Viewing Windows.  The last piece of the puzzle

August – Fall/Winter 2016 through Spring 2017

Opened to the public for special events and rave reviews! Take a virtual tour on YouTube.

Get on board!  Become a Sponsor.     

Sponsorship Opportunities

We are very pleased to announce that the  beautiful Cedar Cathedral Viewpoint has been sponsored by Carol and Bruce Johnson. The Forest Lantern Viewpoint is sponsored by the North family, and the Mill Creek Rotary sponsored the Salmon Arena Viewpoint. The Waterfowl OverlookOld Growth Stump Rest, and the Wild Bird Alley Viewpoint have been sponsored in memory of Doug Dahl by his friends – Doug helped build the Elevated Nature Walk and several other Northwest Stream Center features.

Features still available include: Over 5000 Deck Boards at the $25 dollar level; Deck Sections at the $500 level; Rest/Bench Stops (Secret Pond Rest, Amphibian Rest, Mother Nature’s Rest) at the $2,500 level; Gate House Welcome Deck at the $5,000 level; View Points (Headwater Stream, and Beaver Works) at the $5,000 level; Bridge Crossings (Trout StreamFrog Pond, and Wetland) at the $15,000 level; and the Entry Trail at the $20,000 level.

Consider becoming a sponsor now or buying a sponsorship for a friend or relative – a great gift.   You can make your contribution on the link below — use the comments section of the online form to tell use what you would like on the recognition plaque.  Or give us a call at 425-316-8592.