Trails for everyone, forever

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2020 Accomplishments

In a year when we needed trails more than ever — hikers showed-up by supporting each other and WTA to ensure we were there when you need us. Thank you to our 25,000 members who helped make so much possible in 2020.

We've long known that trails are good for our hearts, bodies and minds — providing not just recreation, but restoration. And in 2020, the value of trails was brought to a new level of importance in our lives. 

Protecting people and places

As plans were cancelled and businesses were shuttered, a record number of hikers headed outdoors for a much needed reprieve during a challenging year. While exploring public lands safely during a pandemic was new territory for us all, WTA worked hard to be there for hikers:

Connected hikers with trails. This year, we helped 5.5 million people find where to go, and guided them on how adventure safely and smartly during these uncertain times. Thanks to our extensive hiking guide, our updated closure and conditions alerts, and the 23,000+ trip reports you wrote this year, continued to be the go-to place for hikers.

Paved the way toward responsible recreation. This spring, WTA and our partners at REI were the leaders in bringing together a statewide coalition to address concerns facing our public lands during this public health crisis. The efforts of the Washington collation helped inspire a national Recreate Responsibly movement.

Helped pass critical federal trail funding bills. In addition to helping hikers, your support directly benefited the trails you love. Two pieces of legislation that WTA has long advocated for — full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and funding to address the backlog of maintenance on federal lands become law with the passage of the historic Great American Outdoors Act.

Set a new standard for trail work safety. WTA also worked to develop industry-leading modified safety standards so our volunteers could return to the field and complete some much needed maintenance. Because of this, we managed to complete more than 71,000 hours of volunteer trail work this year. 

Reimagined leadership and training. We explored innovative ways to inspire and engage folks looking to get outside and give back. Between informational webinars, virtual crew leader trainings on leadership and a new series of Outdoor Leadership Training curriculum videos, we brought stewardship to hikers across Washington.

Campaigns: connecting people with the outdoor experience they need

The growing demand for trails and close-in greenspaces highlighted ways in which our current trail system is struggling to keep pace, and that not everyone has easy access to the outdoors. Work that we started before the pandemic has taken on new weight this year, and our four campaigns are focused on ensuring a future where there are trails for everyone, forever. Together we can create a trail system that we can all be proud of and a community where everyone feels welcome — and together we took steps to get closer to that reality.

Early work being done in the Glendale forest clearing invasive species and preparing for future trails.
Early work being done in North Highline Forest clearing invasive species and preparing for future trails. Photo by King County Parks.

The Trail Next Door

Our Trail Next Door campaign is helping ensure that nature is always in reach by working in neighborhood parks and collaborating with partners to increase access to green spaces across Washington.  

Trail Smarts
Hiker education was paramount this year as we all learned the ins and outs of hiking during a pandemic. Photo by Rachel Wendling.

Trails Rebooted

Our Trails Rebooted campaign is finding solutions to support popular recreation areas by improving existing trails, championing the construction of new ones and helping hikers see the role they play in the future of trails. In many parts of the state, use of popular trails went up by 50% this year, and we were there to support these trails.

  • Devoted more than 25,000 hours of trail maintenance to our well-loved and iconic trails, keeping the treads strong and paths clear for hikers.
  • Made significant progress in the development of the Teanaway Community Forest — scouting, planning for trail construction and bringing user-built trails up to standard. This work will help create a new, year-round getaway for hikers looking to stretch their legs east of Snoqualmie Pass.
The Teanaway Community Forest is an incredible place to explore. Photo by Owen Vogeli.
  • Launched a visioning process for the Mountain Loop Highway in partnership with the Forest Service, which included a public survey where more than 1,200 recreationists shared their hopes for this scenic part of Washington. 

Volunteer sitting next to recently cut logs on the Bogachiel.
A logout along the Bogachiel will allow future hikers to easily traverse this section of trail. Photo by WTA volunteers.

Lost Trails Found

Our Lost Trails Found campaign is working to save trails that are at risk of disappearing completely — preserving access to our stunning backcountry for generations to come. Through your generous support, boots-on-the-ground volunteer trail maintenance, voices in Congress and innovative partnerships, we are putting trails back on the map. This year we made some exciting progress in the long-term protection of our backcountry treasures: 

  • Helped develop the Upper Cowlitz Valley Trails Coalition, bringing recreation groups together to support trails around Packwood and beyond — creating a more diverse and sustainable system of trails in the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
  • Worked to reduce the backcountry maintenance backlog and got one step closer to restoring the Milk Creek bridge thanks to continued collaboration with partners at the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Back Country Horsemen of Washington and the Forest Service (and thanks to new funding opportunities such as the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act). 

Trails For Everyone

Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits of nature and to have safe and welcoming experiences on trail. Unfortunately, outdoor spaces are not as safe, accessible or welcoming for everyone, as they should be. We have reaffirmed our commitment to change this with the launch of our Trails for Everyone campaign.

  • Piloted the Leadership and Inclusion Crew. This new program is designed to build leadership and technical skills for folks historically underrepresented in the outdoor industry. This incredible crew of six brought so much experience and enthusiasm with them as they improved trails at Mount Rainier and throughout Pierce and King County while building up their skills and networks. We are thrilled to be continuing this program for another season of work!
Trails for Everyone
  • Adapted to meet the changing needs of our community partners. We pivoted to online and video skills building when in-person trainings were cancelled, and evolved the way our gear library operates for groups. We're also thrilled to be in the final stages of securing space for our new Puyallup gear library, to better serve Pierce County and South Puget Sound.
  • Continued to be a national model for how to support community partners looking to get youth outdoors through our Outdoor Leadership Training program. This fall, the program hit a big milestone with its 500th supported outing since the program began in 2014
  • Partnered with The Wilderness Society and Trailhead Direct to support a new community resource hub, Outside Inside, which aims to help new outdoorspeople, especially people of color, immigrant, and underserved communities, foster a relationship with the outdoors.

Thank you to our 25,000 members who helped make all of this work possible in 2020. If trails were here for you this year please consider donating to WTA. Your support will enable us to do even more for the hiking community in the year ahead!