Four-Season Bridge Hikes
Bridges. They make good subjects of misty-morning photographs. They are good for entertaining kids with a game of pooh-sticks. But most importantly, they carry trail users from one bank to another.
Bridges are an essential feature of trails, and WTA volunteers have been building professional-caliber bridges for years. But they're not as simple to construct as they might seem.
The next time you hike across a bridge, notice what kind of material the stringers are made of and whether there are stairs that approach the bridge. Ask yourself how all of these materials were transported into this remote place and what equipment must have been needed. Appreciate the art involved in fashioning a bridge out of forest.
Check out a WTA-built bridge on your next hike! The five trails below all feature bridges constructed by WTA volunteers, and are accessible most of the year.
Location: Southwest Washington
Round Trip: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1300’
Passing a thundering waterfall and some spectacular look-outs to the Columbia River Gorge, this loop hike is a Southwest Washington classic. You'll find the massive 30-foot bridge that WTA built about 4 miles from the trail head. One of the stringers that spans the banks was a Douglas fir felled in Beacon Rock State Park; the other two are remnants of a highway construction project. As you cross it, inspect how all of the parts fit together on this sturdy bridge.
Location: Issaquah Alps
Round Trip: up to 14 miles
Elevation Gain: 1100'
Located in Issaquah's backyard, this trail winds through hemlock and cedar, giving it a surprisingly backcountry feel.The "WTA Bridge" lies towards the middle of this 7-mile trail. WTA volunteers built this 40-foot bridge out of local cedar trees that had fallen nearby and were milled on site. See if you can match the grain of the bridge's stringers with the cedars still standing nearby!
Lower Big Quilcene
Location: Hood Canal
Round Trip: up to 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 800'
Raging rivers and towering old-growth make for the perfect bridge hike, and the Lower Big Quilcene has it all. You'll hike six miles and cross several bridges before you come to the Wet Weather Bridge, built by WTA and the Back Country Horsemen of Washington. Volunteers assembled this 30-foot bridge from a bridge kit. Check trip reports before you go or consider snowshoeing this hike; snow loads vary at this time of year.
Larrabee State Park
Location: Bellingham Area
Round Trip: less than 1 mile
This park has a network of trails through majestic cedar and Douglas fir, with the occasional glimpse of the Samish Bay. If you follow the short trail from the day use part of the park down to the beach, after about a quarter of a mile you'll cross the 16-foot bridge that WTA built in 2009. There is no doubt that sweat was an ingredient in this structure; the hardy volunteers who built this bridge carried the two stringers into the work site under their own power.
Location: Spokane Area
Round Trip: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1200’
As well as boasting the quirkiest bridge around, this loop hike also features rare old growth, a waterfall and the occasional peak-a-boo view. WTA volunteers have rerouted the trail around a growing beaver dam and built a bridge in the process. The weirdest thing about this single-stringer bridge? The log that it's made from is crooked!