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Popular Badger Mountain trail will be closed until Richland can come up with new plans

First step of Badger Mountain Canyon Trail improvement

Workers from Allstar Constuction Group Inc. start replacing stairs on the Badger Mountain Canyon Trail in Richland. Trail users can still access the 1,579-foot tall mountain during the project on the adjacent Bypass Trail.
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Workers from Allstar Constuction Group Inc. start replacing stairs on the Badger Mountain Canyon Trail in Richland. Trail users can still access the 1,579-foot tall mountain during the project on the adjacent Bypass Trail.

The Badger Mountain Canyon Trail won’t reopen until fall after a $40,000 stair replacement project faltered on unexpectedly difficult terrain.

The path closed April 25 while Allstar Construction Group of Richland worked to replace the uneven basalt steps that lead out of Trailhead Park in south Richland with more even ones.

Allstar installed the contracted 70 steps, but it left a gap in the path leading out of the Badger Mountain Trailhead parking lot in south Richland.

The city of Richland is re-engineering the project and will seek a new contractor to finish the work in about a month. Realistically, it won’t be ready for visitors until fall.

“It’s a very steep slope up the side of the mountain with some unforeseen conditions,” said Joe Schiessl, the city’s parks director.

While some are scrambling past the gap, the city prefers visitors use what it calls the bypass trail, a gentler route that adds roughly a quarter of a mile to the popular trek.

Friends of Badger Mountain, the nonprofit that promotes and helps maintain the network of trails on Badger Mountain. The bypass rejoins the Canyon trail above the initial steep grade.

Money is all gone

The city also has to find money to complete the project.

It set aside $40,000 in its 2019 budget. The incomplete project consumed all that money. Schiessl said the city is looking for other funding sources to finish the job.

Schiessl understands the frustration, but encouraged patience.

When completed, the new stairs will offer a better hiking experience for Badger Mountain’s many visitors, particularly those who are less sure-footed.

Trailhead Park, at Queensgate Drive and White Bluffs Street, is the most popular starting point for visitors to Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve.

But the park can also be accessed from the Skyline Trail, which starts its climb at the Badger Mountain Westgate Trailhead at Dallas Road south of the Interstate 182 overpass.

The trailhead to neighboring Candy Mountain is nearby, off Dallas Road to the north of the freeway overpass.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.
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