Design-Build in Port Townsend: Views of the Olympics

Nicoterra Trails designed a trail for a narrow triangular parcel of land. The parcel is suitated on a bluff in the Cape George Community of Port Townsend and is a gem . My client requested the trail link her future house at top to her garden shed and parking site at bottom on slopes of up to 30% grade. Her property is lovely with second growth Douglas Fir and old Madrones framing long western views. I wanted to situate the path to these beautiful relics of nature as well as build it for low maintenance. This path also had to be safely hikable for an elderly person. A final request was made to calculate and design a stormwater runoff system and construct it into the trail bed.

I quickly learned that this beautiful piece of property had only deer access. One leg of the future trail co-opted their path.

My overall plan was to keep grades below 15% and use the full width of her property in design to achieve that. I initially wanted to build a trail of a 3′ bed, but this was rejected after we discussed how visually and environmentally disrupting that amount of earth moving would create. Trail tread width was then set at 2′ and to compensate for a narrower tread I proposed strengthening tread with local rock and turnpike built on the hinge so that outsloping of trail tread would be minimized.

Several switchbacks were built to maintain moderate grades and these provided the biggest challenge to the design. Using 1 man rock on these edges held the slope together. Finally, native plants were used to restore ground cover, principally kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva ursi).


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