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Get Ready to Sign Up for Backcountry Trips

Our volunteer trail maintenance trips will be released on Jan. 31, and will open for registration on Feb. 8. Here's the low-down for a great summer vacation trip with WTA.

You'll be able to preview WTA's 2020 backcountry trip schedule on Jan. 31. From then until Feb. 7, you can review where each trip is going, get an idea of the project you'll work on, and most importantly, fill out your forms! These need to be complete before you can register for any trips.

  • Registration opens at 10 a.m. on Sat, Feb. 8.

Three volunteers on the Coyote Trail enjoy the views of the Goat Rocks on a BCRT last year. Photo by Brandon Tigner

What's a backcountry trip? 

Here's the deal. Each year, WTA organizes more than one hundred multi-day work parties where participants head into the backcountry to camp and do trail maintenance together. These trips are important to the health of Washington's trail system, both helping reboot some of the state's most popular trails, and recover some of our lost trails

Some of these trips — volunteer vacations — are super luxe. Your gear gets packed in for you, and we fuel your hard work with WTA-provided meals for eight days. They do have a fee associated with them, largely to pay for the food we provide and the time required to pack it and the gear in.

Some are more rugged. On backcountry response team trips (BCRTs), you'll backpack in carrying WTA-provided tools. These trips range in length and difficulty. You might be out there from 3 to 8 days, and your crew might stay in the same campsite for the duration of the trip, or move camp each day through gorgeous high country.

Some are youth-specific volunteer vacations. These are for 14-18 year olds, and almost all 8 days and include WTA-provided food and tools. Volunteering and learning trail maintenance skills with a group of other teens is a great way to spend spring break or a week of your summer vacation. These also have a fee associated with them, but scholarships are available. 

Getting to work in gorgeous places is another fabulous perk of backcountry trips. Photo by Hannah Tennent. 

Maybe the best evidence that these trips are worth checking out is the number of return volunteers we have each year. The crews are fun, the projects are interesting, and the campsites offer the rejuvenation from nature that so many studies have shown to be good for you.

So do yourself a favor and get ready for registration day:

  • Create a My Backpack account if you don't already have one.
  • Complete your Medical History and Backcountry Experience forms before Feb. 8. They're in your My Backpack dashboard.
  • Check the volunteer schedule between Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 to find a trip or two you're interested in.
  • Register for a trip at 10 a.m. on Sat., Feb. 8.

2020 Details & Pro Tips

New this year: Mar.-Jun. BCRTs will be open for registration on Feb. 8. Registration for BCRTs from July to October will open on Apr. 24. (We're trying out this new registration model to help limit the amount of cancellations before late summer and fall trips.)

If the trip you want is full, join the waitlist for it! There's a good chance you'll get the spot you want.

Please don't sign up for a trip unless you are sure you will be able to attend it. Backcountry trips are a fun experience that we want to be available to as many people as are interested in attending. Land managers rely on WTA crews to do a significant portion of the trail maintenance on their land, and saving a spot you may not be able to fill can affect how much work gets done during the trip.

If you've already been on one of these trips, you know the drill for sign-ups. You can start using these tips to start prepping for a cozy camp and fabulous food.

Whether it's a BCRT or a volunteer vacation, you're likely to have gorgeous campsites on a backcountry trip. Photo from WTA archives.