Major Gains for Lost Trails Around the State
This year, more than 500 volunteers devoted nearly 15,000 hours of work to saving lost trails across the state. Follow along for a look back at everything we've been up to in our Lost Trails Found campaign.
We've been making a lot of headway on our Lost Trails Found campaign this year, working to reclaim our three signature lost trails and protect dozens more backcountry trails across the state. In total, 516 volunteers devoted nearly 15,000 hours of work to saving these spaces. Here's a look back at everything we've been up to:
Boundary Trail, Pasayten Wilderness
The extensive Boundary Trail spans almost the entire length of the vast and remote Pasayten Wilderness — offering miles of expansive views, a peek at Washington's arctic tundra and unbeatable opportunities for solitude. It serves as a crucial 80-mile link in the Pacific Northwest Trail, connecting the Rocky Mountains of Montana to the sandy shores of Washington's Coast.
While it should be in prime condition, decreases in funding along with catastrophic wildfires have left segments of the Boundary Trail nearly impossible to navigate by hikers and other trail users.
To help bring the Boundary Trail back to its former glory, WTA created a Pasayten partnership with several land managers and recreation groups including Back Country Horsemen of Washington, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, and the Pacific Northwest Trail Association. The partnership worked together to restore trails throughout the wilderness, working in conjunction with land managers to select project areas on the Boundary Trail and on those trails that lead to it. Focusing collective efforts on shared projects and goals helped us to us to coordinate our maintenance projects, combine our resources, and tackle projects more efficiently, ensuring greater overall impact on trails.
This work was further propelled when the Methow Ranger District, which includes trails in the Pasayten Wilderness, was selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a priority area for the Forest Service to focus their efforts and help address the trail maintenance backlog on our nation's forests and grasslands.
In the field, WTA hosted four backcountry volunteer trips in the Pasayten throughout the summer, totaling more than 2,000 hours of volunteer trail work. We also teamed up with the Northwest Youth Corps to sponsor a crew of 9 all-star youth to spend five weeks in the remote reaches of the Boundary Trail, totaling an additional 2,000 hours of trail work.
We also dove into the economic benefits that Pasayten trails have on nearby Washington communities and promoted the hiking opportunities the wilderness has to offer.
Angry Mountain Trail, Goat Rocks wilderness
Nestled between snow-capped Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, the Goat Rocks’ reputation for stunning scenery and relative proximity to population centers, such as Southwest Washington and Portland, Ore., draws more adventure-seekers every season. The Angry Mountain Trail was once known as a good way to enter the wilderness and provided hikers with a variety of loop options for their trips.
But after a decade without maintenance, with slumping sections and hundreds of trees across the trail, the Angry Mountain Trail had become nearly inaccessible to hikers. Over the years, we have devoted weeks worth of backcountry volunteer crews to complete the logout of this stretch, and this summer, WTA volunteers nearly reopened the entirety of the trail. Wildfire smoke interfered with our final push to the top, but we anticipate it will be fully reopened and accessible in 2019.
Across the Goat Rocks Wilderness, we hosted seven backcountry volunteer trips totaling over 3,500 hours of volunteer trail work this past summer. Thanks to these volunteers, we were able to clear a crucial reroute to the Pacific Crest Trail during summer fire closures, and aided thru-hikers in their push to the Canadian border.
Milk Creek Trail, Glacier Peak Wilderness
The iconic Milk Creek trail was one of the primary trails to enter Glacier Peak Wilderness — providing important opportunities and access to the Pacific Crest Trail and Glacier Peak — until an epic flood event destroyed the steel bridge that once spanned the substantial Suiattle River and provided access to the Milk Creek Trail. The bridge loss has eliminated access to Milk Creek trail and put a halt to any trail maintenance.
We've been working to promote recreation opportunities in the Glacier Peak Wilderness and raise awareness to the critical access that the Milk Creek Bridge provided. Experienced land managers know the challenges, importance and recreation potential of this area, and we're working closely with Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest supervisors to chart a future for the Milk Creek bridge.
Trails Around the State
In addition to our work on our priority trails, volunteers worked on an additional 34 backcountry trails at risk of becoming lost during the 2018 season, spanning everywhere from the Serlkirk Mountains in the northeast corner to the river views of the Columbia Gorge.
We can't wait to continue this work into 2019 and beyond. With the new year fast approaching, we're already planning dozens more volunteer and advocacy opportunities to help save these special places. Thank you to all of the members, donors and volunteers who make this work possible — we couldn't do it without you!
Read more about our Lost Trails Found campaign and find out how you can help at wta.org/losttrails.