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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.



      Public Lands Package Heads to House for Consideration

      Feb 22, 2019

      The House of Representatives will soon consider a robust public lands package that benefits Washington's trails and outdoor spaces. See how you can help.

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      We're Heading Back to Olympia to Work for Hikers Like You

      Jan 14, 2019

      The legislature is currently creating the budget for the next two years. Here are WTA's funding priorities as we enter the 2019 legislative session.

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      Forest Leader: Thank You, WTA Community, for Your Warm Welcome

      Nov 05, 2018

      The new regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Region looks forward to working with the WTA community to care for trails.

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      A 15-Year Vision For Trails: Meet The Teanaway Community Forest

      Oct 24, 2018

      After one and a half years, the final draft of the Teanaway Community Forest is finally here!

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      You Did It! Lake Serene Is Protected Forever

      Oct 17, 2018

      Last Friday, our friends at Forterra announced they have officially completed the purchase of land abutting the Lake Serene trail, guaranteeing the trail will remain accessible forever.

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      What's the Deal with LWCF?

      Oct 05, 2018

      For the past 52 years, the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act (LWCF) has been our nation’s most successful conservation and recreation program. With its future in flux, here's what you need to know.

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      3 Ways to Tackle Trash on Trail

      Sep 19, 2018

      Being an advocate for trails can mean many things — even picking up trash. That’s why WTA is asking hikers to make a pledge to pick it up and pack it out.

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      Celebrate Blanchard Mountain!

      Sep 11, 2018

      Celebrate the protection of Blanchard Mountain with a day full of fun activities!

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      This Summer, Hikers Stepped Up for Trails

      Sep 03, 2018

      Here's how hikers worked hard for trails this summer. Plus, how WTA has been working behind the scenes to plan a future for trails.

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      This Labor Day, Be a Leader -- Leave No Trash on Trail!

      Aug 29, 2018

      WTA teamed up with Deuter for a pledge to #LeaveNoTrashOnTrail campaign. By picking up even one piece of garbage on your hike, you are not only helping protect public lands and wildlife: you are modeling advocacy for everyone around you

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      New Trails From Baker To Bellingham?

      Aug 22, 2018

      Would you like to see new trails, connectors, and trailheads in this beautiful area? Now’s your chance to speak up! The Baker to Bellingham Non-Motorized Recreation Plan is in its later planning stages and is open for public comment until August 26.

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      Speak Up for the Enchantments!

      Jul 17, 2018

      Chelan County and the Washington State Department of Ecology have proposed a plan called the Icicle Strategy. Parts of the plan call for new, larger dams in the incredibly popular and beloved Alpine Lakes Wilderness Enchantment Lakes region which have the potential to flood lakeside trails, campsites, and adjacent lands.

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      Nason Ridge: Private Land Acquired, Saved From Logging

      May 30, 2018

      Nason Ridge near Lake Wenatchee is the latest piece of land to be saved from logging after a surge of local support over the last 10 months.

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      Get a Glimpse of the Future Teanaway Community Forest in Cle Elum on April 12

      Apr 03, 2018

      Attend the next Teanaway Community Forest meeting on April 12 to learn about future recreation opportunities in the Teanaway and share your thoughts.

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      Share Your Vision for the Future of Trails on the Mount Baker District

      Mar 30, 2018

      The Forest Service is seeking input from hikers on opportunities for projects in the Mount Baker Ranger District along the North Fork Nooksack River corridor. Help shape the Nooksack Integrated Conservation and Enhancement Project by attending a meeting in Maple Falls March 8 or April 12.

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      New Bill Is Great News for Federal Wildfire Funding and Trails

      Mar 23, 2018

      Hikers and trail advocates scored several big victories with the passage of a federal budget bill in Congress.

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      Rare Opportunity to Shape the Future of Wallace Falls

      Mar 15, 2018

      As State Parks looks at the future of Wallace Falls State Park, hikers have a rare opportunity to help shape one of the most beloved destinations in the state.

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      2018 Legislative Victories: State Invests in Trails and Public Lands

      Mar 13, 2018

      The state legislature wrapped-up the 2018 session on March 8, and there's plenty for hikers and trail advocates to celebrate.

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      Trail Maintenance Help Coming to the Methow

      Feb 26, 2018

      The Methow Valley Ranger District in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest selected by USDA as one of 15 priority areas to help address the $314 million trail maintenance backlog on forests.

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      Speak Up for Trails in Whatcom County

      Feb 15, 2018

      Want to see more hiking between Bellingham and Mount Baker in the coming years? Attend one of these upcoming meetings and share your thoughts.

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      Ellensburg Meeting a Chance to Shape the Manastash Ridge Trail System

      Sep 19, 2017

      Attend a Sept. 26 meeting to preview early plans for a trail system on Manastash Ridge, and give feedback.

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      Hikers Turn Out for Trail Funding on Washington Trails Day

      Aug 10, 2017

      Last weekend, WTA talked to a thousand hikers at trailheads across the state. Most of them were excited to speak up for trails and trail funding.

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      We're a State of Hikers, and That's Good News for Our Economy

      Jul 26, 2017

      A new study from the Outdoor Industry Association has some impressive new statistics on the recreation economy in the state and the country. Your time spent on the trail generates more revenue than you might think!

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      Speak Up for Trails Along the Mountain Loop by July 3

      Jun 26, 2017

      The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest recently proposed a timber project in the popular Mountain Loop Scenic Byway area. While it may mean more parking, some popular trails like Heather Lake, Mount Pilchuck and Lake 22 may be impacted. Learn more and submit your comments by July 3.

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      Planning for the Future of Trails

      Jun 23, 2017

      Gearing up to meet the demands of a booming recreation economy, a number of our parks and recreation areas are developing trail and recreation plans. Here's how to learn more and get involved in shaping the creation and management of tomorrow's trails.

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      Take the Hiker Survey for the Teanaway Community Forest

      Jun 14, 2017

      Take the short survey, and your answers will be presented to the Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee in July, and help shape the future of our state's largest community forest.

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      Your Comments Needed on National Monument Review

      Apr 26, 2017

      See what the latest executive order means for national monuments and how you can speak up for trails.

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      National Parks' Record Visitation Highlights Outdoor Economy

      Apr 19, 2017

      National Parks visitation broke records last year. A new report out today reveals how those visits translated into jobs and millions for the trail towns surrounding Washington's national parks.

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      Teanaway Community Forest Recreation Planning Update & Stewardship Day

      Apr 18, 2017

      Evaluations for use in the Teanaway Community forest are under way. Here's the latest news, and an opportunity to get involved.

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      Saving Lost Trails: 3 Areas Where WTA Will Focus in 2017

      Mar 07, 2017

      The hiking community has an opportunity this year to save three iconic places that represent the variety of challenges trails are facing across the state.

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