Trails for everyone, forever

Home Get Involved Take Action Improving Trail Experiences

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.



      Take Action to Protect the Methow Valley from Mining

      Feb 22, 2017

      Following incredible community support in 2016, Methow Valley closed 2016 with a victory for long-term protection against mining for the region’s recreation lands.

      Read More

      Record Numbers Show Up to Speak for Trails in Olympia

      Feb 16, 2017

      More than 120 hikers from across the state joined WTA for Hiker Rally Day in Olympia yesterday to voice their support for funding for trails and recreation lands and programs to get youth outside.

      Read More

      D.C. Update: Bill to Sell Public Lands Withdrawn, Monuments and Drilling Proposals Move Forward

      Feb 08, 2017

      The first two weeks for the new federal administration and the 115th Congress saw the introduction of multiple proposals that could impact hikers.

      Read More

      2017 Legislative Priorities: Funding for Trails, Getting the Next Generation Outdoors

      Jan 24, 2017

      The legislature is currently making the budget for the next biennium, making this a critical time for hikers to show support for the outdoors.

      Read More

      As Jewell Returns Home, Incoming Interior Secretary Pledges to Protect Public Lands

      Jan 20, 2017

      No matter who is in office, WTA will always work to protect access to trails and support funding for the public lands we all share.

      Read More

      Dec. 20: Shape the Future of Trails in Seattle

      Dec 15, 2016

      The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department invites hikers and other Seattle residents to attend a public meeting next Tuesday to discuss the city's plan for soft surface trails.

      Read More

      Dec. 15: Help Plan Morning Star Trails

      Dec 09, 2016

      DNR could add new trails in the area. Morning Star NRCA is home to popular hiking destinations in Snohomish County like Gothic Basin, Ashland Lakes and Bald Mountain.

      Read More

      Path Cleared for New Trail in Wild Sky Wilderness

      Nov 22, 2016

      The project will create new hiking opportunities in the wilderness area, adapting to the increasing demand for family-friendly and ADA-accessible trails.

      Read More

      In Final Days Before Recess, Congress Passes Legislation to Support Forest Trails

      Nov 17, 2016

      Trail lovers have something new to be thankful for during the holiday: the Senate passed a bill to preserve trails.

      Read More

      County Council Approves Plan for 98 Miles of New Trails at Lake Whatcom

      Nov 14, 2016

      After more than a year of collaboration with the recreation community, the Whatcom County Council will ensure sustainable access to this local gem.

      Read More

      Every Kid in a Park Launches for 2017

      Oct 20, 2016

      Every Kid in a Park is launching for its second year -- get your fourth grader his or her free federal lands pass now!

      Read More

      Oct. 25: Help Plan the Future of Recreation, Trails in the Teanaway Community Forest

      Oct 19, 2016

      The Washington departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife (DNR and DFW) are inviting outdoors enthusiasts to help plan the future of recreation in the Teanaway Community Forest.

      Read More

      Lost Trails Found: Creating a Sustainable Future for the North Fork Sullivan Trail

      Oct 10, 2016

      Strong partnerships, trail funding and a lot of hard work in the field means brings one trail in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness come back from the brink.

      Read More

      Two Conferences to Talk Trails, Health, Equity and Transportation

      Sep 19, 2016

      Leaders from around the state will be converging on two terrific trail conferences to untangle the challenges faced by trails, and chart a way into the future

      Read More

      Take Action: Connecting Mount Baker and Bellingham with a New Trail System

      Aug 17, 2016

      The Department of Natural Resources needs your comments as it works to complete a multi-year planning process to manage recreation on its working forests.

      Read More

      PHOTOS: On Washington Trails Day, Hikers Spoke Up for Trails

      Aug 12, 2016

      Saturday August 6, hikers across the state celebrated the third annual Washington Trails Day by getting outside and showing their support for increasing trail funding.

      Read More

      Speak Up For Trails on the Colville National Forest

      Jun 24, 2016

      The Forest Service is seeking public comments on the Draft Revised Forest Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Colville National Forest released earlier this year.

      Read More

      Senators Murray, Cantwell Introduce Bill to Protect Methow Valley

      May 26, 2016

      Senator Patty Murray and Representative Maria Cantwell have introduced legislation supporting the Methow Headwaters campaign lead by local residents, farmers and businesses.

      Read More

      Help Map the Future at Mica Peak

      May 24, 2016

      Join Spokane County Parks in exploring Mica Peak Conservation Area and informing the development of a new recreational trail system.

      Read More

      New Trail Links Recreation Areas near Anacortes

      May 24, 2016

      The nearly-complete John Tursi Trail is a vision decades in the making. WTA volunteers have helped make this connector between Deception Pass and Anacortes a reality, and a ribbon cutting is scheduled for June 4.

      Read More

      Help Shape the Future of John Wayne Trail

      May 03, 2016

      Hikers have another chance to help Washington State Parks determine the future for the John Wayne Pioneer Trail at two public meetings in Preston (near Issaquah) and Ritzville.

      Read More

      UPDATED: Victory! Congress Revives Land and Water Conservation Fund

      Apr 21, 2016

      Conservationists and outdoor recreation enthusiasts celebrate the inclusion of a critical conservation program in the federal budget deal.

      Read More

      Good News for Pacific Crest Trail in Washington

      Apr 18, 2016

      New protected views from the PCT, and a call to clear the way from Canada for southbound hikers.

      Read More

      Methow Community Rallies to Preserve Valley's Character, Water & Economy

      Apr 11, 2016

      In response to a new mining proposal, community members are coming together to protect the area for future generations.

      Read More

      Telling the Teanaway’s Geologic Story

      Mar 30, 2016

      If the hills of the Teanaway could talk they would tell tales of bubbling lava, earth ripped asunder and a shoreline triggered by great blocks of melting glacial ice.

      Read More

      To Prevent Lost Trails, Training Tomorrow's Backcountry Stewards

      Mar 11, 2016

      Trails get lost in a variety of ways and volunteers have the skills to find them. But how does a person actually learn to care for our treasured places?

      Read More

      Speak Up Now for Recreation Roads Near Mount Baker

      Mar 03, 2016

      The National Forest is analyzing the North Fork Nooksack road system near Mount Baker. Hikers have until March 7 to weigh in on the future of trailhead access along these recreational roads.

      Read More

      Attend a Meeting in Cheney or Ellensburg to Plan the Future of John Wayne Pioneer Trail

      Mar 01, 2016

      The John Wayne Pioneer Trail is the longest state rail-trail reaching across Washington from east to west and hikers have the opportunity to help plan for the future of the trail.

      Read More

      Protect Trails From Mining Near Mount St. Helens

      Feb 29, 2016

      The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is requesting comments on a proposal to conduct exploratory mining near Mount St. Helens National Historic Monument.

      Read More

      How Does Trail Funding Work?: Before Trails Can Be Built, the President and Congress Make a Budget

      Feb 17, 2016

      The presidential administration's budget proposal could have a huge impact on trails, but first it has to be negotiated in Congress. And that's a long trail ahead indeed.

      Read More