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Exploring the State Through Volunteering

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Sep 08, 2021 10:39 AM |
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Our varied, far-reaching volunteer opportunities have the added benefit of giving volunteers a fun opportunity to see and explore new parts of Washington.

By LeeAnne Jensen

WTA works all over the state — from small neighborhood parks to backcountry trails. This broad reach allows us to go where the need is greatest and where we can do the most good for the whole trail system. Our varied, far-reaching work has the added benefit of giving volunteers a fun opportunity to see and explore new parts of Washington.

Some of our volunteers specifically seek out opportunities to spend their volunteer time in far-flung places all across Washington state. While volunteers have their own reasons for traveling, the overarching theme is their desire to explore new places while building community far and wide.

Allie Deford has found that work parties give her a more comfortable way to explore new areas on her own.

“I'm not typically the first one to sign up for a solo adventure, but having WTA work parties to travel to in other parts of the state, where I know I’ll have people to meet up with, has helped me discover new areas and given me more confidence in going on adventures,” she said.

Wendy Inouye enjoys learning about the areas she travels to from the locals.

Wendy and Stella working on trail.
Wendy Inouye (right) works on the trail to Blanca Lake in 2019. Wendy loves how traveling to do trail work offers her a chance to learn the state in a new way. Photo by Jessi Loerch.

“One of the best things about volunteering in another region is the people you meet from that region,” Wendy said. “They are a really great resource for local information — favorite places to explore, logistics, history, local ecology — that you'd be hard-pressed to get anywhere else. I cannot recommend this enough.”

In addition to giving volunteers a new area to explore, working across the state helps them develop a wider range of skills. Solving a drainage problem deep in the rain forest, for example, can be quite different from installing a drainage feature on the dry side.

“Working with so many different crew leaders in so many different conditions around Western Washington, I've gotten to see lots of different approaches to solving problems and building sustainable trails,” Allie said.

Regardless of what motivates them to travel across the state for work parties, most volunteers choose to volunteer for multiple days to ensure a good drive-time-to-fun ratio. In some areas, WTA offers weekend trips, where volunteers spend 1 or 2 days working on the same trail and camp together nearby.

To maintain a good drive-time-to-fun ratio, Belinda Cron prefers to chain together multiple single-day work parties. Belinda has fond memories of working on trail, including hiking into the Pasayten with 12 women in 2019 and all of the good conversations enjoyed on trail, over shared meals and even, on volunteer vacations, while sharing dish-washing duties.

“WTA volunteers are wonderful people all across the state, and WTA really means ‘We Talk A lot,’” she said.

With so much exploring, friendship building and learning going on, it’s no wonder volunteers make it a goal to work all across the state. To plan your own work party road trip, check out Use the map or regional filters to find the location that most appeals to you. We hope to see you on a WTA work party — or a few — soon!

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.