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Trip Reporters Celebrate Southwest Washington Trails and Volunteers

Posted by Vietsr at Sep 12, 2022 11:47 AM |

WTA is hard at work improving and building trails in Southwest Washington. Get the latest updates and learn how you can support trails in this region of the state.

The trails in the southwest corner of Washington are stunning. Whether you find yourself looking out at the Columbia River Gorge or exploring your local park, you’re bound to be inspired by the views, landscapes and wildlife that make this region special. Thanks to a generous grant from the National Forest Foundation  that supported work across the Gifford Pinchot National Forest WTA crews worked on over 25 trails there.

Trip reporters have been singing their praises for Southwest Washington trails this year, as well as the WTA volunteers that help build and maintain them as part of WTA’s Trails Rebooted campaign. Trails Rebooted is an effort to support the growing number of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts by building new trail systems and improving existing ones. Check out what hikers are saying about some of the key areas where WTA is working and building a better future for trails in Southwest Washington.

From the Columbia River Gorge to the backcountry trails of Mount St. Helens, WTA and its dedicated volunteers are improving and maintaining the trails of Southwest Washington. On Sept. 22, join us for Give More 24!, a day of giving in Southwest Washington that celebrates the work of nonprofits in the region. Or make a gift today — early giving is open now. Thank you for your support and for sharing your love for these amazing trails.

Silver Star Mountain

The sharp peak of Mount Hood rises above misty clouds and evergreen trees. Photo by trip reporter lkray.
Views of Mount Hood from Ed's Trail on Silver Star Mountain. Photo by trip reporter lkray.

Trip reporter lkray aptly describes the beauty of Silver Star Mountain in their July trip report. “The Silver Star summit was clear, and what a view of the mountains above the clouds! Besides the three volcanoes and Goat Rocks to the north, we could see Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and with binoculars, even the 3 Sisters.” 

With its stunning views and impressive trail system, WTA wants to ensure that more hikers can access Silver Star Mountain. The road to the trailhead is rough, making it difficult for most vehicles to make the trip. That’s why WTA is leading a coalition of stakeholders in the Silver Star Vision Plan Project, which hopes to address the challenges facing this area so that the needs of all recreationalists and land management agencies are met, while also protecting the environment. 

This summer, WTA partnered with the Chinook Trail Association to remove overgrown vegetation on the Bluff Mountain Trail that leads to the Silver Star Mountain summit. We also had our paid Lost Trails Found crew out to remove additional brush on the Bluff Mountain and Silver Star trails, making for a more enjoyable hiking experience.

Lyle Cherry Orchard

Yellow wildflowers bloom with view of the Columbia River in the distance. Photo by BeaverDawg.
Lyle Cherry Orchard is full of wildflowers in the spring. While wildflowers are starting to wane in summer heat, the views remain. Photo by BeaverDawg. 

Trip reporter BeaverDawg was spot on when they said, “The work on the trail by WTA was evident. Thanks to those who did the work. Given the trail topography, it seems like challenging work.” Volunteers faced challenging terrain and at times had to remove thick grass during the construction of two new loops at the Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve in the Columbia River Gorge. However, thanks to our partnership with Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the dedication of volunteers, hikers can now enjoy more than  2 additional miles of trail. Expect wildflowers in the spring, groves of old oak trees and sweeping views year-round. Plus, WTA completed a short reroute in March to make the grade easier to hike and more resistant to erosion. This reroute includes two new switchbacks and a few rock steps. 

Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop

A trail sweeps through a meadow with Mount Hood in the background.
WTA has helped turn the user-created trails at Coyote Wall into a sustainable trail system that will be cherished for generations. Photo by Alpine Wanderer.

Coyote Wall is another favorite in the Columbia River Gorge. One popular trail at Coyote Wall, the Labyrinth Loop, used to exist as a series of unsustainable user-created trails. Thanks to WTA volunteers and our partner organizations, this area has since been turned into a trail system that will last for years to come. WTA continues to perform annual maintenance and projects on this trail, like erosion-prevention efforts. WTA has plans to be back out here this November. 

Trip reporter Alpine Wanderer describes why this trail is so iconic. “Bottom Line: First time, and I am in love with this trail — waterfalls, flowers, enchanting groves of oak trees, interesting rock formations and basalt cliffs, gorge and Mt Hood views, late afternoon lighting, decent vertical, and all packaged into a loop!” Read their full trip report from this spring to learn more about the trail and to see gorgeous photos from the hike.

Angel Falls Loop (Covel Creek)

A waterfall cascades over mossy rocks. Photo by Mirek Kohout.
In the last year, WTA has helped to reroute and restore abandoned sections of the Covel Creek Trail that connects to the Angel Falls loop. Photo by Mirek Kohout. 

Covel Creek Trail is a short hike that is often used by youth attending camps at the Cispus Environmental Learning Center in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The hike can also be extended to include Angel Falls Loop. WTA recently completed a reroute around a bridge that has washed out. As trip reporter Whio describes, WTA volunteers worked to minimize impact on hikers when making this change. “As of the 29th May, WTA has closed off the trail at the first river crossing and rerouted the trail to stay on the east bank of the creek. The old trail is planted over with ferns, done so well you wouldn't even know it was a trail! … Didn’t see anyone else on the trail (except the WTA work party — kudos to you!) until we were almost back at the car.”  Deconstructing an old trail is as important as building the new one to ensure hikers use the designated trail and reduce environmental impact to the area.