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Improving Trail Experiences

Trails are the backbone of outdoor adventure and recreation in Washington. From protecting your favorite weekday escape or the backcountry experience of sleeping under the stars in one of Washington's wilderness areas, WTA advocates for new trail systems across the state and works to protect the wild places the surround the trails we love.

Trails are the backbone of outdoor adventure and recreation in Washington. From protecting your favorite weekday escape or the backcountry experience of sleeping under the stars in one of Washington's wilderness areas, WTA advocates for new trail systems across the state and works to protect the wild places that surround the trails we love.

High Pass Trail by Kevin Mack.jpgExploring the incredibly green High Pass Trail. Photo by Kevin Mack.

Current Trail Priorities

Advocating for hiking trails on the Teanaway Community Forest

Background: Washington's largest single land purchase in the past 45 years was completed in 2013 when the state bought the 50,000-acre lands now call the Teanaway Community Forest. Currently the community forest does not have a designated trail system.

  • As a member of the forest's Advisory Committee, WTA is working with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (agencies which jointly manage the land) to develop recommendations for the forest's management plan.
  • WTA is advocating for a robust hiking trail system on the forest.

Creating trail plans to meet the demand of Washington's hikers

The challenge: By the year 2040, Washington state's population is expected to increase by 2 million people. Currently about 8 out of every 10 Washingtonians got outside at a county, city or state park in the past year. Yet according to the 2013 Washington State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, current facilities, including trails, can only satisfy 30 to 40 percent of the demand for recreation across the state.

  • WTA is working with land managers across the state to develop trail plans that ensure rich, equitable hiking opportunities for the future. We are currently working on trail planning projects along the Columbia Gorge, in Bellingham and in North Central Washington.

Managing wilderness within Mount Rainier National Park

Background: Mount Rainier National Park is currently considering updating its wilderness plan, which could impact the hiking experience in some of the park's most pristine areas. Wilderness trails at Mount Rainier have become increasingly popular, putting some beloved trails under pressure. Hearing from hikers about the future wilderness plan will help the National Park Service strike a balance between preserving Mount Rainier's beauty and environmental integrity with access for trail lovers.

  • WTA will continue to monitor the planning process and offer comments on any proposals presented by the National Park Service.

Innovative solutions to partnerships and our recreation pass system

Background: After collecting comments from constituents last fall, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has introduced the "Recreation Not Red-Tape Act" (S.2706 and H.R.4790) to promote job growth in the outdoor recreation industry, create new opportunities for public and private partnerships and simplify some components of the outdoor recreation pass system on federally managed lands.

  • WTA will monitor the bill as it progresses through Congress to ensure it benefits hikers in Washington and across the nation.

Planning new trails in Whatcom County

Background: Hikers have a new opportunity to help Washington's Department of Natural Resources plan trails in Whatcom County. There are currently no designated trails on DNR land within our county, so this is your chance to participate in the early phase of trail planning so we can create recreation opportunities that reflect the need of our community.

  • WTA is participating in a committee of outdoors enthusiasts to create a vision for Whatcom County trails with DNR.

Ensuring a strong future for Washington's cross-state trail

Background: The John Wayne Pioneer Trail is the longest rail-trail reaching across Washington from east to west. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has begun a planning process to shape the future of the eastern section of Iron Horse State Park and the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. In 2014, State Parks completed planning for the 34 mile section of railroad corridor between Malden and the Idaho border. The current planning process will address the remaining 140 mile portion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail that extends from Beverly Bridge to Malden.

  • At the end of 2015, State Parks began working with a citizen advisory committee to address management concerns and plan for recreational use on this section of the trail. WTA has been included on the committee and continues to advocate for access and collaborative management between the state and communities along the trail.


      >> Sign up for the Trail Action Network to learn when important decisions are being made on trail experience issues.



      Do You Want Hiking Trails in the Teanaway?

      Jul 18, 2014

      The new Teanaway Community Forest has endless possibilities for a world-class trail system for hikers. The forest does not have an official trail system to call its own, but planning is underway right now. Make sure your voice is heard on the future of trails in the Teanaway.

      Read More

      Will Trails Be Built in the Teanaway Community Forest?

      Jun 20, 2014

      The first in a series of public open houses for the Teanaway Community Forest has been scheduled for Thursday, June 26. Come show your support for a designated trail system for hikers and other recreationists.

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      Outdoor Recreation: Tell Governor's Task Force Your Ideas for Washington

      Jun 09, 2014

      This year, Governor Inslee formed a Blue Ribbon Task Force to boost the state recreation economy. Attend a meeting or answer a few questions online to make sure that the task force hears what matters most to you as they chart the future of recreation in Washington.

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      Olympic National Park Proposes Temporary Move of Enchanted Valley Chalet

      Jun 05, 2014

      Teetering on the bank of the East Fork Quinault River in Olympic National Park, the Enchanted Valley Chalet likely cannot withstand another harsh Olympic winter. Park officials want to temporarily move the chalet away from the river, a plan that WTA supports. Share your thoughts on the proposed move by midnight June 5.

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      Lyle Community Trails Plan Moves Forward

      May 05, 2014

      A draft plan for a system of non-motorized trails adjacent to the town of Lyle will be presented at a public meeting from 6-8 pm on May 7th. WTA looks forward to engaging volunteers in helping to build and maintain this new trail system, but we need your support to help make it the best trail plan it can be.

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      Help Plan Whatcom County’s Newest Park, Speak Up for Trails

      Apr 28, 2014

      Help Whatcom County plan the future of Lake Whatcom Park, including a robust trail system that could include more than 50 miles of new trails for hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners and equestrians.

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      Saving Green Mountain Lookout, A Brief Retrospective

      Apr 17, 2014

      This week, President Obama signed the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act, putting an end to years of uncertainty around the fate of the beloved lookout perched high in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of Washington's Cascade range.

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      Green Mountain Lookout Bill Passes Congress

      Apr 07, 2014

      The U.S. House has joined the Senate in passing legislation to preserve the Green Mountain Lookout in Glacier Peak Wilderness. The bill will now go to President Obama for signature.

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      Murray, Cantwell Secure Unanimous Senate Passage of Green Mountain Lookout Bill

      Apr 03, 2014

      Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to preserve the Green Mountain Lookout in Glacier Peak Wilderness. The House could take up the bill as soon as next week.

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      Help Olympic National Park Plan for Wilderness Management

      Mar 26, 2014

      Learn about Olympic National Park draft plans for managing the park’s wilderness on everything from trails to bear canisters to self-registration stations. Then, find out how to weigh in.

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      Governor Inslee Makes Outdoor Recreation a Priority

      Feb 20, 2014

      “Outdoor recreation is an underappreciated part of our economy,” said Governor Inslee yesterday. Inslee has created a blue ribbon task force to look at ways to support the outdoor recreation industry and increase funding for recreation areas. A special focus will be placed on getting people, especially youth and families, engaged in outdoor activities.

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      Obama Administration Supports Green Mountain Lookout

      Feb 12, 2014

      The Obama Administration announced its support to for the legislation to preserve the Green Mountain Lookout in Glacier Peak Wilderness, but the fate of the lookout remains unclear.

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      What Kind of Trails Do You Want in Larrabee State Park?

      Jan 14, 2014

      Washington State Parks is just starting to plan the future of Larrabee State Park, and they want to hear from you. What kind of trails and recreation experiences do you want to see at Larrabee?

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      Government Report Underscores Trail Maintenance Backlog

      Jan 09, 2014

      Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report to Congress about U.S. Forest Service trails. The message: "Long- and short-term improvements could reduce maintenance backlog and enhance system sustainability."

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      Klickitat County Trails Plan Seeks Input from Local Residents

      Dec 18, 2013

      Local trails plan to connect the Lyle Cherry Orchard Trail to the town of Lyle is seeking input from Klickitat County residents.

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      How Do You Hike on Mount-Baker Snoqualmie Lands?

      Nov 12, 2013

      Don't miss your opportunity to shape the future of roads in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Attend the last public meeting in Everett on Nov. 13 and fill out a short questionnaire before the Nov. 30 deadline.

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      Cooperative Effort Secures 50K Acres of Teanaway Land

      Oct 02, 2013

      Hikers and other recreational trail users have something big to celebrate today, the purchase of 50,272 acres in the Teanaway region by Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

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      Alpine Lakes Protection Bill Gets A House Hearing

      Jul 25, 2013

      The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions bill continues to show momentum for passage in 2013. After having passed the U.S. Senate on June 19, its companion bill, H.R. 361, received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation on July 23.

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      Alpine Lakes Wilderness Bill Passes Senate

      Jun 20, 2013

      In a surprise to many followers of federal wilderness legislation, the U.S. Senate passed the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Expansion bill last night. Now it moves on to the House of Representatives where it is scheduled for a committee hearing in July.

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      Wild Sky Wilderness Trails Plan Released

      Jun 05, 2013

      The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has just released its Wild Sky Wilderness Area Trail Plan which identifies, evaluates and priorities 50 existing and proposed trails in the new Wild Sky Wilderness Area.

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      Possible Logging Adjacent To Cougar Mountain

      Feb 07, 2013

      More than 200 forested acres adjacent to Cougar Mountain and the Cougar/Squak Corridor may be logged if the King County Department of Natural Resources does not succeed in acquiring the property.

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      Olympic National Park Wants Your Feedback

      Feb 05, 2013


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      Alpine Lakes Wilderness Expansion Bill Reintroduced

      Jan 24, 2013

      Senator Murray and Congressman Reichert have joined with co-sponsors Senator Cantwell and Congresswoman DelBene to reintroduce legislation aimed at protecting 20,000 acres adjacent to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and designating both the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers as Wild and Scenic. This important legislation has cleared every legislative hurdle other than Senate passage.

      Read More