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.



      Trails Can't Speak for Themselves, But These Advocates Will

      Feb 04, 2016

      Meet just a few of the trail advocates who have played a big role in advocating for trails here in Washington.

      Read More

      Show Support for Two Trail Projects Along I-90

      Feb 02, 2016

      The U.S. Forest Service has proposed two new trail projects within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest on the Talapus Lake Trail and near Dirty Harry's Peak.

      Read More

      2016 Legislative Priorities: Teanaway Community Forest, Trail Funding

      Jan 25, 2016

      This years’ legislative session in Olympia may be short, but hikers still have an opportunity to support investment in our public lands.

      Read More

      Attend a Meeting to Discuss Wilderness Use in Mount Rainier

      Nov 11, 2015

      Mount Rainier National Park is considering updating its wilderness plan to address pressures on popular trails.

      Read More

      Advocate for Trails at Lake Whatcom on Nov. 5

      Oct 29, 2015

      There’s a possibility for new trails on Lookout Mountain and next to Lake Whatcom. Here's how you can help make them a reality.

      Read More

      Urban Trails to Connect Neighbors With Nature, Each Other

      Oct 15, 2015

      At the end of September, Seattle City Council approved a $100,000 grant to bring an urban trail experience to one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods.

      Read More

      Wildfires Burn Through National Forest Budgets

      Oct 01, 2015

      This year's fires took an enormous toll on Washington communities and wracked up a hefty bill, forcing the Forest Service to raid recreation funds.

      Read More

      DNR Proposes New Trail Policy, Public Comments Due Sept. 28

      Sep 25, 2015

      The Department of Natural Resources needs your input as the agency plans for the future of recreation in places like Mt. Si, Oyster Dome and Mailbox Peak.

      Read More

      Federal Program Needs Your Support for the Future

      Sep 02, 2015

      WTA volunteers donate thousands of hours each year, but it takes a lot of resources to get boots on the ground. The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is making it easier for volunteers to give back.

      Read More

      Outdoor Community Discusses the Future of Recreation in Washington with DelBene, Murray

      Aug 12, 2015

      Nearly a dozen members of the outdoor recreation community met with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and Senator Patty Murray to discuss the need to maintain Washington's natural heritage for the future.

      Read More

      Submit Your Comments on North Cascades Helicopter Landing Proposal

      Jul 27, 2015

      The U.S. Army has proposed several helicopter exercise sites in the North Cascades, some of which are in close proximity to popular hiking areas.

      Read More

      Land and Water Conservation Fund Protects Trail Experiences

      Jul 14, 2015

      One of the nation’s most important conservation program is at risk of expiring in September if Congress doesn’t act soon. Learn why it's critical for Washington’s trails.

      Read More

      Hikers' Voices Heard on I-90 Timber Sale

      Jun 23, 2015

      Over 500 comments from hikers were sent to the Forest Service asking for a timber harvest to be to be balanced with protecting trails. The Forest Service heard hikers loud and clear.

      Read More

      Shape New Trails in the Central Cascades

      Jun 15, 2015

      The Nature Conservancy made news with a historic land purchase preserving 47,921 acres of land near Cle Elum. You have the chance to shape the future of the land.

      Read More

      Was Your Favorite Trail Protected by This Little-Known Program?

      May 15, 2015

      Treasured places like Antoine Peak and Iller Creek in Spokane, the Duwamish Greenbelt in King County and more will remain in the public trust thanks to the Conservation Futures program.

      Read More

      Victory in Olympia! Bringing the Outdoors Into the Governor's Office

      May 13, 2015

      A new law signed by the Governor today creates the first-ever senior policy advisor on recreation in Washington. It also funds the No Child Left Inside program.

      Read More

      You Can Help the Mountains to Sound Greenway Become a National Heritage Area

      Apr 21, 2015

      If you've hiked in the Puget Sound region or Central Cascades, you've probably hiked in the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Now it could become a National Heritage Area.

      Read More

      Mount Rainier Faces Maintenance Backlog, Asks Congress to Fund Parks

      Apr 17, 2015

      Reports of significant maintenance backlogs at Mount Rainier, other federal lands, point to a need for Congress to fund public lands in 2016.

      Read More

      Teanaway Community Forest Draft Plan: Ready for Your Review

      Apr 09, 2015

      Hikers, trail runners and others now have the opportunity to read and comment on the draft management plan for the Teanaway Community Forest.

      Read More

      Pledge to Keep Trails Clean, Win a New Klean Kanteen

      Apr 06, 2015

      Do you bring your own water bottle when you hike? Do you pack your trash out? Sign the pledge to keep our trails clean, and be entered to win a new Klean Kanteen.

      Read More

      DNR Plans to Expand Recreation in the Snoqualmie Corridor

      Apr 02, 2015

      Outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes will soon enjoy access on 120 miles of trails in the Snoqualmie Corridor as part of a recently-released recreation plan.

      Read More

      Speak Up for Trails in the I-90 Corridor

      Mar 25, 2015

      The Forest Service needs to hear from you about a timber harvest proposal that could impact trails in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest: the Hansen Creek project.

      Read More

      Call for New Trails in Clark County Parks

      Feb 26, 2015

      If you'd like to see more local hiking and walking trails in Clark County, here are two easy ways to tell the county and its Parks Advisory Board how you feel in an online survey or in person.

      Read More

      What Do State Parks Mean to You?

      Feb 23, 2015

      What do you like about visiting one of Washington's State Parks? Help get the next generation into the parks by taking a brief survey, and you'll entered to win a $150 REI giftcard!

      Read More

      Victory! Hikers Celebrate New Additions to Alpine Lakes Wilderness

      Dec 11, 2014

      Today, Congress passed The Alpine Lakes Wilderness bill, which will protect an additional 22,000 acres to one of hikers' most beloved destinations. WTA and hikers have been working towards this victory for seven years.

      Read More

      Speak Up for Hiking Trails at Teanaway Open House

      Dec 02, 2014

      Voice your opinions about the future of the Teanaway Community Forest at an upcoming public open house on Thursday, Dec. 4 from 5-8 p.m. at the Swauk Teanaway Grange, 1361 Ballard Rd. West, Cle Elum.

      Read More

      A Vision for New Columbia River Gorge Trails in Oregon State Parks

      Nov 18, 2014

      This spring Oregon State Parks revealed a draft of their plan to guide the next 20 years of improvements at parks they manage in the Columbia River Gorge. Public comments are due by November 21st so its critical that hikers voice support for the ideas in the plan that will improve and expand hiking opportunities in the Gorge.

      Read More

      Hooray! The Suiattle Road Finally Opens

      Oct 30, 2014

      On October 25, the Suiattle River Road, closed for 11 years due to washouts, was opened to the percussive beat of rain and much applause, restoring access to the Glacier Peak wilderness and a myriad of hikes in the area, most notably the Green Mountain Lookout. This widely-publicized destination is an extremely popular destination for hikers and history buffs alike. The road is also a boon for the nearby town of Darrington, which relies heavily on tourism dollars for the local economy.

      Read More

      Future of Hiking Trails on DNR Lands Depends on You

      Sep 24, 2014

      Help shape the future of trails like Mailbox Peak, Oyster Dome and Mount Si. Attend an upcoming meeting on DNR’s recreation trails policy, and help shape the future of state trails for years to come.

      Read More

      ONP’s Enchanted Valley Chalet Moving, Temporarily

      Sep 04, 2014

      Olympic National Park has begun work to move the Enchanted Valley Chalet. During the two-week project, hikers should be aware of a few restrictions in the area. The move is a temporary measure to protect the chalet, which has been threatened by a change in course of the valley's East Fork of the Quinault River.

      Read More