The Thurston County Board of Commissioners recently changed the name of the Yelm-Tenino Trail to the Yelm-Rainier-Tenino Trail.
Rainier residents, city government officials and advocates for the area have been attempting for years to rename the trail in an effort to include the city of Rainier in its name, since the city maintains a section of the 14.5-mile trail between Yelm and Tenino.
The former rail-line-turned trail was acquired by Thurston County in 1993. Efforts for its expansion into Pierce County by way of the Prairie Line Trail are currently being worked out between Pierce County based organizations and the city of Yelm.
The rebranding effort was years in the making, said Rainier Mayor Bob Shaw.
“I reached out to the county commissioners and wrote them a letter probably two to three years ago and shared my concerns that it would be nice to have Rainier included in that trail naming,” Shaw said. “It’s always been the Yelm-Tenino Trail and I just shared that it goes right through the town of Rainier.”
The move was designed to put Rainier on the map, since the trail goes directly through town, “from city limits to city limits,” Shaw said.
“I requested that they possibly change that trail name to include Rainier,” he said. “That’s all I did. I wrote a letter and I also reached out to the commissioners that I knew personally.”
It took them a few years, but representatives of the county installed a new sign for the Rainier trailhead earlier this month, rebranding the trail as the “Yelm-Rainier-Tenino Trail.”
“To my satisfaction, and to my surprise, I was finally notified that it would happen,” Shaw said. “It’s just been a process to get the sign remade. I thank the current county commissioners along with John Hutchings, who was a commissioner before the last election. He was part of that original process of getting this going.”
The original concept for the new name was to call it the TRY Trail, a play on words that represents the three cities the trail traverses, but also an acronym for Tenino-Rainier-Yelm.
During a February 2020 Southeast Thurston Economic Development Initiative meeting, former Rainier City Administrator Charmayne Garrison read Shaw’s letter. The 2020 county commissioners at the time were present at the meeting, with Commissioner Gary Edwards signaling support for the measure at that time.
“As the trail goes right through the city of Rainier and next to our city hall, we believe that Rainier should be included in the name of the trail and that the new name can be used as a marketing tool to attract visitors to Thurston County and the communities of Tenino, Rainier, Yelm and beyond,” Garrison read from the letter.
The final product of the name change, which was unveiled earlier this month with the new sign, doesn’t reflect the “TRY Trail” branding, but Shaw told the Nisqually Valley News earlier this month that the city is grateful nonetheless.
“It’s good that our community can feel like we’re being noticed and that the commissioners made the determination that Rainier should be part of the trail name,” Shaw said. “All you had to do was add a name to it and change the naming of the trail. It’s nice that our community can see our name in the sign, as the trail goes right through our town.”