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Tolmie Peak by Tedrick Mealy

2018 Accomplishments

Washington Trails Association worked hard in 2018 to mobilize hikers to create a statewide trail system worthy of the majestic places it allows us to explore. Thanks to you, our amazing community of donors and volunteers. You've helped us accomplish so much.

Washington Trails Association works hard to mobilize hikers and build a statewide system worthy of our state's majestic wild places. Anyone who has hiked in Washington knows two things make our state a special place to explore  the landscapes and the people.

Washington is home to extraordinary hiking destinations, including  desert dunes, wild beaches, tranquil mountain tops and raging rivers. Washington also hosts a community of people who are passionate about exploring and protecting these places. This constituency — our members and supporters — is key to the future of trails in Washington.

Bringing people together to create change

Bandara together by Jimmy Cornejo.jpg
The hiking community makes WTA stronger. Together we can do more for trails. Photo by Jimmy Cornejo.

In 2018, we helped our community channel their love of the outdoors into powerful acts of stewardship to ensure trails will be around for generations to come. Every day, we engage our community as trail maintenance volunteers, public-lands advocates and on-the-ground experts sharing their knowledge with fellow hikers. The power of this community is unmatched. Here are some of the highlights from 2018:

It started as a radical idea in the mid-'90s — what if hikers helped maintain the trails they use?
  • We celebrated the 25th anniversary of our volunteer trail maintenance program. It started as a radical idea in the mid-'90s what if hikers helped maintain the trails they use? Since then, the impact of this program has grown each year. In 2018 alone, 5,000 people volunteered 171,000 hours to keep our trail system safe and accessible. Thanks to our members and volunteers, this model continues to be recognized as an innovative and successful public-private partnership. It has also brought people together, taught hikers new skills and created the largest statewide volunteer trail maintenance program in the nation.
Trail crew walks towards project in the Teanaway. Photo by Britt Le
For 25 years, WTA volunteers have been improving our state's trails. In 2018, they contributed an impressive 160,000 hours of labor to Washington's public lands. Photo by Britt Lê.
  • WTA invested in single-identity work parties. The goal of a single-identity work party is to help everyone feel welcome and represented in the WTA community. Providing a safe space for people with identities that are under-represented in our volunteer base is a key step to increase their participation and leadership at work parties. Volunteers who joined us on our pilot work parties for women and girls, Latinas and the LGBTQ+ community have said that while they had thought of volunteering in the past, a single-identity work party encouraged them to finally sign-up.

Hiker in tent by shon’t savage
shon’t (@thatgirlshont), a board member of Adventure Mamas Initiative, was one of the amazing voices we highlighted during #expandthenarrative. Photo by shon't savage.

  • We continue to grow the community of people who love the outdoors. Our Instagram feed now reaches more than 100K outdoor enthusiasts. And we were excited to highlight the power of this medium with the #expandthenarrative campaign, which shared stories from some amazing people who love to explore the outdoors.
This work is about more than numbers, it's about dinners by a campfire, adventures that challenge what teens think is possible and the discovery of the wonders of the outdoors.
  • WTA's young leaders continue to inspire us. This year, our 21 youth ambassadors have shown us that the leaders of tomorrow are stepping up today. As hike leaders, crew leaders and more, these teens are doing it all.
  • Our Outdoor Leadership Training program expanded offerings to more community leaders. Our Gear Library provided clothing and equipment to support more than 100 outdoor adventures for youth and family groups in 2018. This work is about more than numbers — it's about dinners by a campfire, adventures that challenge what teens think is possible and the discovery of the wonders of the outdoors.
  • WTA worked with lawmakers to commission a study to demonstrate the value of recreation. These findings will highlight the positive impacts that hiking and biking have on people's health, as well as the local economy. When completed, this research will make it easier for decision makers to make the case for investing in recreation in Washington.
  • WTA advocates came together on Washington Trails Day and helped set the tone for the future of forests in Washington. Together, we sent more than 3,400 postcards welcoming the new regional forester for the Pacific Northwest region and encouraging them to prioritize recreation. Glenn Casamassa was moved by the outpouring and said it reinforced what he already knew, "... that the people and public lands of the Pacific Northwest are special". 
I have always known that the people and public lands of the Pacific Northwest are special. -- Glenn Casamassa Regional Forester

Looking out for the landscape

The trail system in Washington offers something for everyone, from close-in adventures to backcountry experiences. WTA is working to improve this system to ensure the infrastructure and routes can support the growing number of people getting out across the state. We believe in disbursing use and helping hikers discover all that Washington has to offer. Here are some of our favorite place-based successes our community made possible this year:

Map of locations WTA worked in 2019
WTA volunteers are out year-round working on trails — from local parks to national forests. Together, we are creating a sustainable trail system that will provide quality hiking experiences for generations of hikers in Washington. Each point on this map may represent several nearby trails where we worked this year.

  • We were able to improve more than 250 trails around Washington. We added new trails to the map and helped hikers more easily explore hundreds of others. When you are on a trail that has been maintained, the difference is clear.

  • WTA volunteers helped add new options to trail systems around the state from 7 miles of new trail at Fishtrap Lake near Spokane to new loop options near Bellingham at Lookout Mountain and Fairhaven Forest. Other close-in trails that are now open thanks to WTA include Dirty Harry's Peak off of I-90 and trails recovered around the Columbia River Gorge after the Eagle Creek Fire.

  • The Teanaway Community Forest is one step closer to becoming a popular year-round destination. WTA has been an active participant in the Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee. After 18 months of planning and public input, the 15-year vision and recreation plan for the forest was completed. Thanks to the many advocates that commented, the plan includes miles of new trail for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
    Teen volunteers repair a trail in the Pasayten
    WTA trail crews did 14,795 hours of work on our lost trails in 2018, including the amazing youth volunteers that participated in our volunteer vacation in the Pasayten. Photo by Isabel Shinnick Gordon.

  • Our Lost Trails Found campaign has already resulted in some key backcountry connections being restored (to the thanks of many PCT hikers). In the Pasayten, we are exploring new partnerships to get more work done in the backcountry while supporting future outdoor leaders. In the Goat Rocks, we are proving you can bring trails back from the brink. Finally, we are working with land managers to see what it would take to restore the bridge at Milk Creek in the Suiattle River Valley.

All of these accomplishments and so many more are made possible thanks to our community of members, volunteers and advocates. Thanks to your support, we continue to make Washington’s trails safe and accessible for hikers today and for generations to come.

We are looking forward to 2019 — there is more to do and we are excited to see the hiking community continue to come together and make a difference in the year ahead.