Trails for everyone, forever

Home Our Work Trails for Everyone Breaking Down Barriers to Getting Outside

Breaking Down Barriers to Getting Outside

The history and current reality of racism have created barriers for many people getting outside to enjoy the benefits of nature. WTA has been supporting the hiking community since our founding, but in the past decade we have been more intentionally focused on lowering barriers to access the outdoors and making our community more welcoming to all.

The history and current reality of racism have created barriers for many people getting outside to enjoy the benefits of nature. When you consider the uneven distribution of funding, information, green spaces and other resources, it is clear that many Washingtonians aren't able to benefit from or deepen connections to nature.

Trails for Everyone is building off of work WTA has been doing for years to make experiences on trail accessible and rewarding for everyoneWe’ve been supporting the hiking community since our founding, but in the past decade we have been more intentionally focused on lowering barriers to accessing the outdoors and making our community more welcoming to all. We're doing that in a few ways.

Reducing Barriers to Getting Outside

We want to make it easy for hikers to find the information they need to get outside. We do that in a lot of ways — through our Hiking Guide and by sharing basic hiking skills in our Trail Smarts series, for instance. Our website is full of good information — and thanks to the support of our members, it has always been free.

We’re also doing hands-on work to help people gain new skills and get outside. One way is through our Outdoor Leadership Training program, which in the 5 years since it was founded, has trained more than 300 leaders. Those leaders have taken more than 10,000 people on outdoor excursions.

Creating Safe Spaces

WTA began offering shared-identity trail work parties more than 10 years ago to provide a safe space for volunteers from similar backgrounds and communities, including women and the LGBTQ+ community. This approach expands our volunteer base and helps more people gain skills in trail stewardship and access opportunities in the outdoor industry. Volunteers who have joined us on these trips have said that, while they had considered volunteering in the past, it was this community opportunity that encouraged them to finally sign up. 

We've also built successful weeklong Latinx trail crew experiences in partnership with Latino Outdoors, in addition to work parties with other community-based organizations. And we created a New to Trail Work series to lower barriers for folks to try trail stewardship for the first time.

Our leaders are trained how to foster a welcoming environment, how to recognize bias and how to step in as needed to ensure everyone feels safe and supported while volunteering their time for trails.

building Partnerships — the Cornerstone of Trails for Everyone

None of the work we are doing to create trails for everyone is done alone. Partner organizations are key to making this vision a reality. We are constantly learning from one another and finding new ways to collaborate and grow. Together, we can all get more done.

Read about our work in action

What We've Learned in Our Work Toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Oct 12, 2021

In early 2018, we rolled out a diversity, equity and inclusion plan at WTA. Over the last 3 years, we’ve consistently worked toward the goals in that plan. Now, we want to take a moment to reflect on our work and some key lessons we’ve learned.

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Tribes and Treaty Rights: An Acknowledgment of Indigenous Lands

Oct 12, 2020

We respectfully acknowledge the lands we are visiting are the homelands of Indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest, some of whom have reserved treaty rights on these lands. Please tread gently and treat these places with respect.

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Outdoor Leadership Training Workshops and Gear Library Restart with New Safety Protocols

Sep 22, 2020

Outdoor Leadership Training experiential workshops and gear library lending are starting back up with new safety protocols to support community groups and organizations with their outdoor learning plans.

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How Powerful Partnerships Help WTA Build a Better Future for Trails

Aug 13, 2020

WTA has been bringing people together for years. By building connections, finding middle ground and creating shared goals, we are moving toward our vision of trails for everyone, forever. Here are a few recent examples of how, when we come together, we can do more for trails and the hiking community.

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#RecreateResponsibly: Creating a Safe, Welcoming Outdoors for All

Jul 01, 2020

We all have to work together to keep each other safe from the dangers of COVID-19. But we also can work together to keep each other safe in another, vital way.

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Using Science to Make Getting Outside Easier

Jun 15, 2020

What keeps people from getting outside? What are the barriers that make it hard to spend time on trail? Those are the questions that social scientists from the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station are trying to answer.

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