An Effort to Clear the Path in Goat Rocks Wilderness
Years of storm damage, fallen trees and road washouts have dwindled the Goat Rocks accessibility to a handful of trailheads. WTA volunteer trail maintenance crews spent weeks throughout the summer working across the Goat Rocks trail system, clearing logs, fixing tread and roughing-in re-routes in the hopes of expanding the number of available trails and dispersing hikers to lessen the impact on this delicate ecosystem.
WTA's Lost Trails Found campaign restores trails that are slowly but surely disappearing. The restoration of these lost trails will make them more accessible and disperse some of the pressure on backcountry trail systems.
Nestled between prominent Mount Rainier and the snow-capped Mount Adams, the Goat Rocks Wilderness is known for its stunning scenery, park-like alpine meadows and aqua blue lakes.
Much of the terrain that makes up the Goat Rocks is moderate and accessible to hikers with a variety of skill levels looking for a scenic high country adventure. Unfortunately, years of storm damage, fallen trees and road washouts have dwindled the area's accessibility to a handful of trailheads. As trail funding diminishes, it's difficult for the forest service to single-handedly keep up with the backlog and keep trailheads open. With so few entry points, hikers have been funneled onto only a few trails into the Wilderness, resulting in heavy use and ecological damage.
To alleviate the damage, WTA volunteer trail maintenance crews spent weeks throughout the summer working across the Goat Rocks trail system, clearing logs, fixing tread and roughing-in re-routes in the hopes of expanding the number of available trails and dispersing hikers to lessen the impact on this delicate ecosystem.
WTA Youth Programs Manager, Britt Lê, joined one of our crews at Packwood Saddle in early September for her first backcountry, weeklong trip with WTA.
“Over the course of four days, our crew of 10 removed more than 110 logs that were encroaching on the trail corridor," she recalled, "by the end of the trip, we had logged out about seven miles of trail … and there was still so much work left to be done."
"Before I learned how to use a crosscut saw, I would walk by gargantuan logs that had been sawed off trail without giving them a second thought. Now, every time I see evidence of crosscut work, I always take a moment to appreciate the efforts made by an anonymous crew to help maintain access to our most beautiful places.”
The Angry Mountain trail, one of WTA's priority trails in the Goat Rocks, was also home to a major log removal project this past summer. The Angry Mountain trail is well-known as one of the roughest sections in the Goat Rocks, becoming so difficult to follow, the route has even been removed from several maps.
In late August, a crew of 8 volunteers, led by Ken Vandver, were able to clear 1.5 miles of fallen trees, rework the tread on overs 300 yards of trail and brush over 200 yards of trail, continuing the work WTA began last year on the trail.
After the WTA crew trekked out, the Angry Mountain trail received even more maintenance from the Lewis River Chapter of Back Country Horsemen, led by crew leader Tom Faubian.
“I was blown away by the work you folks did over the last #90 trip," Tom said of the WTA crew, "there were logs cut out that would have been challenging to the finest windfall bucker (a sawyer focusing on fallen trees) from the old days. You were able to not only make the cuts safely and get the large logs overboard, but also improve the tread to the point that in several places it looked like a trail in the National Park. I would be proud of any of the cuts you made on the challenging logs and you not only cut them out, but then moved on to the next without hesitation. It is an incredible piece of work.”
A big thanks is in order to all of the crews that made this work possible Thanks to their dedication, the Goat Rocks Wilderness is one step closer to having a sustainable trail system. (2017 project work on this trail supported by a Matching Awards Program Grant (MAP) from the National Forest Foundation)
Want to help save trails like these? Join WTA for a week outside this summer! Our 3-8 day Backcountry Response Teams and weeklong Volunteer Vacations connect backpackers with much needed trail maintenance projects throughout Washington. Summer trip registration opens on February 10. Trips fill up fast, so be sure to register early.