WTA spent a lot of time in 2019 listening to partners, community based organizations and people who love hiking in urban spaces. But we were also getting work done on the ground, too. In 2019, WTA volunteers contributed more than 7,000 hours of work to urban trails and parks.
In addition to trail work, we've also made our Hiking Guide more robust so you can find your next nearby hike a little easier. In total, we have over 140 urban hikes in the guide, and that number continues to grow. And, thanks to hikers like you, those hikes have over 12,000 trip reports on them, which means you have access to the latest conditions on the trail from people who have visited them recently!
Take a look at some of the other things we've been up to in the early stages of The Trail Next Door below.
MAINTAINING AND BUILDING URBAN TRAILS
McKinley Park (pictured above) is one of the oldest parks in Tacoma. And, as it's right next to I-5, it provides easy access to an oasis of green in the middle of a heavily-developed area. It features lots of trees and wide trails, as well as a nice playground for kids. A few dozen volunteers joined us in 2019 to help improve trails for hikers in the park.
In the fall of 2019, we returned to Bainbridge Island and the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial for a youth and families work party. This was our second year working at the memorial to support restoration efforts in partnership with Northwest Youth Corps and the National Parks Conservation Association. Volunteers removed invasive plants, planted tress and designed horticultural displays. This project shows that sometimes trail work itself isn't the only thing green spaces need to thrive.
LEARNING FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
WTA partnered with GirlTrek and the U.S. Forest Service in 2019 to learn more about what benefits people enjoy from walking outside and how to make it easier for more people to get out on trail. In October, we hiked together in Swan Creek Park in Tacoma where we discussed the different aspects of what people want to know about urban hikes, which varies widely from information that is relevant to backcountry hiking experiences.
As we developed The Trail Next Door, we spent time in the field with staff from King County Parks who work to acquire land and green spaces. They shared with us how they prioritize what land to buy that best serves the communities they work in. They hope to maximize the impact of new spaces by looking for properties that are in areas that are low income, have a higher-than-average rate of health disparities and where many people are within a 10-minute walk of the green space. We supported the King County Parks levy last year to help ensure the parks department has the resources it needs to do the important work of expanding access to nature and green spaces across the county.
see what else we're working on
Making Nature Accessible in Urban Areas
Jul 23, 2020
See how WTA is working with local neighborhoods and King County Parks to bring a new urban green space and trails to Seattle.
Apps WTA is Loving Right Now
Jun 14, 2020
Apps on our phone are not only a way to connect to each other, they’re also a way to connect to nature. Right now, our phones are a lifeline for many to the broader world and the people we love. They can also serve as a bit of necessary rest and a way to connect with the natural world. From flora and fauna to running and, of course, hiking, here are some apps that WTA staff members are loving right now.
What Do I Need for a Close-to-Home Hike?
Mar 17, 2020
For a walk in your local greenspace, packing along the Ten Essentials may feel like overkill — but then where does that lead us?
Out of the Wilderness and Into the City
When guidebook author Craig Romano began exploring urban trails after decades in the backcountry, he found more than he’d expected | By Craig Romano
A Trail of Memories
I found joy on epic adventures with my dad. Now I'm finding that same joy exploring close to home with my own children | By Andrea Laughery
Trail Work 101: An Easy Intro for New Volunteers
Feb 18, 2020
Curious what trail work is about? Come join us to learn how to maintain trails in a low-key supportive environment.