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Making a Difference on National Trails Day

Posted by Andrew Engelson at Jun 12, 2009 03:25 PM |
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WTA's Trails Program Director, Diane Bedell, had this wrap-up to report on WTA's National Trails Day work parties last Saturday, June 6. Thanks to everyone who came out and made our trails a little better. You're making a difference!

NTD Glacier Basin

What’s it like to show up to volunteer to help maintain your favorite local trail when there are 25 or more folks signed up for the event?  That was the question of the day this past Saturday, as more than two hundred WTA volunteers (yes, you read that correctly, more than 200 WTA volunteers) labored to make a handful of Washington’s hiking trails a better recreational experience.

This past Saturday June 6, was National Trails Day, a day dedicated to hiking and the people who make hiking a possibility. Yes, it’s the day we celebrate trail volunteers!  Well, WTA celebrates trail volunteers year round, but National Trails Day is an extra special day for the hiking community. Originally established in 1993 by the American Hiking Society, NTD is recognized across the United States including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.  To be fair, even Canada gets in the swing of things for National Trails Day.  The American Hiking Society promotes NTD as a way to encourage the American public to get out and enjoy and celebrate the 200,000 miles of established trail in the United States.

Here in Washington, WTA hosted ten National Trails Day events this past Saturday.  These events ranged from new trail construction at Iller Creek Conservation Area in Spokane to Beacon Rock State Park in the Columbia River Gorge. There were trail maintenance events near Mount Baker, on the Olympic Peninsula, in the Methow Valley and in the I-90 corridor.  WTA volunteers hauled rock, topped off turnpikes, sawed logs off the trail, dug drainage ditches, lopped brush and removed stumps.

It is truly amazing how much rock a group of 10 – 15 volunteers can haul. Literally tons of rock--bucket by bucket.  I watched a finished turnpike take form on the Glacier Basin Trail in Mount Rainier National Park as buckets and bags of rock and fill were trundled up the trail, to a new turnpike location, some 200 feet away.  And that was just for starters!  All across the state, trails and hikers were definitely on the winning side on National Trails Day.

Brian Baird NTD

And WTA wasn’t the only organization lending a helping hand in Washington this year. Thirty-seven additional NTD events were held in the state by other trail-friendly groups including several Backcountry Horsemen of Washington chapters, Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, and the Mountain to Sound Greenway Trust.  Yeah for trail volunteers!

Meanwhile, Ryan Ojerio, our Southwest WA coordinator, said that WTA had a great National Trails Day in the southwest corner of the state. Some of the highlights:

  • We officially opened the Hardy Ridge Trail to hiking after nearly 4 years of volunteer efforts to construct it
  • 30 Volunteers participated
  • Congressman Brian Baird kicked off the event with a welcome and thanks to all the volunteers
  • The Chinook Trail Association (CTA) hosted the post work party BBQ and received generous donations to pay for all the food and refreshments from Cascade Dental and Mitch Bower Consulting (both businesses in Vancouver).

If you didn't get a chance to come out to work on trails last weekend, you still have plenty of chance to create your very own trails day. Check our schedule out, find a date on your calendar, and join us! You don't need any experience, just a pair of work gloves, long sleeved shirt and pants, a sack lunch and a willingness to help out!

National Trails Day Photos: Top: Volunteers on the Glacier Basin Trail, Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Diane Bedell. Bottom: Congressman Brian Baird and volunteer Erin Segard of Vancouver on the Hardy Ridge Trail work party. Photo courtesy office of Congressman Brian Baird.