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Lightning Round with WTA's New Executive Director

Posted by Kindra at Feb 14, 2017 06:55 AM |

We asked WTA's executive director, Jill Simmons, seven quick questions on her first day.

Washington Trails Association's new Executive Director, Jill Simmons, started today.We are excited to start working with Jill to achieve WTA's strategic plan but before we get down to business we thought we would take two minutes to get to know WTA's new leader a little bit better. Below are the seven lightning round questions we asked her while she was refilling her coffee cup this morning.

Jill Simmons New Zealand
WTA's executive director, Jill Simmons, on a recent hike through the Routeburn Track of New Zealand

How did you first discover WTA?

WTA has been my go-to source for hiker information for the sixteen years I’ve been hiking in Washington state. In fact, a visit to WTA’s hiking guide is how I learned about the executive director opportunity!

What did you do to celebrate becoming WTA's executive director?

I took a summer hike in the North Cascades. Okay, not the actual North Cascades, but their sisters in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. I'm just back from a wonderful two-week adventure that included a lot of hiking, including a spectacular three-day trip of the Routeburn Track, pictured above. (As you can see, WTA even made a small appearance.)

What are you most excited about with your new position?

I never dreamed I’d be able to say that I get to hike for a living—at least as part of the job! And, I’m also excited about all the other parts of the job that help to ensure everyone has the ability to get out and enjoy our state’s natural wonders. We have a lot to do to provide quality trails for the increasing number of hikers in Washington state. I look forward to helping WTA find creative ways to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Day one: what are your first impressions?

I am glad the coffee pot seems to always be full so I can keep up with all the great work being done by WTA’s impressive staff, board and volunteers.

What is one thing you would like the WTA community to know about you?

If I’m hiking with you and I suddenly stop to stare off in the distance, don’t worry, nothing is wrong; I’m just looking for a bird. As an animal lover, I am always on the lookout for wildlife, and a bird is almost always nearby when you’re on the trail. I enjoy the challenge of identifying it and fun of watching it in its natural habitat. One of my favorite birds to observe on the trail is the American Dipper, bobbing and playing along lakes, rivers and streams.

What is your favorite hike?

In a state like Washington, it’s nearly impossible to pick one favorite hike. But, Maple Pass Loop on the North Cascades Highway is high up on my list of favorites, and I try to hike it at least once a year. It has a little bit of everything—forests, lakes, meadows, mountain vistas—and never ceases to take my breath away.

What is your 11th essential?


We hope you will all join us in welcoming Jill as she starts her new adventure here at WTA.


American Dipper

I love watching the American Dippers, too! I saw them for the first time on the Boulder River trail and jokingly named them Bobbers until I heard them described on Bird Note (NPR) and learned their true name. Welcome aboard and happy to have you as the new WTA Executive Director!

Posted by:

IllinoisDana on Feb 23, 2017 08:00 AM


Welcome to WTA from the East side, and best wishes on your new endeavor! Hope to see you on a trail soon!

Chris Baldini

Posted by:

ChrisB on Feb 23, 2017 10:24 AM

Maple pass loop

Everyone should try this one. It's an amazing experience and hard to match it's beauty. Great to have you in our community.

Posted by:

NWhikers on Feb 23, 2017 09:59 PM