Whether you're looking for advice on your next hike or for a way to protect your favorite trails, joining Washington Trails Association community as a member will help you find and preserve trails. When you become a member, you'll ensure that the next generation of kids learns to love the outdoors as much as you do. You'll become of a part of an incredible, vibrant hiking community.
WTA helps plan your next adventure. Find inspiration, ideas and practical advice in WTA’s bi-monthly magazine, Washington Trails, and on our website. More than 3,000 hiking guide entries and 6,000 trip reports each year make wta.org the go-to place to find your next hike.
Spread the word! Washington Trails Association is now hiring for our first Information Systems Manager.
- Do you know what CRM stands for? Can you articulate to your non-techie nonprofit colleagues how it will help them run their programs more effectively?
- Did you go to last year's Dreamforce conference and get more excited about learning Salesforce admin tips and tricks than seeing performances by MC Hammer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
- When you login to wta.org to save hikes using My Backpack, do you wonder why you can't also see which trail work parties you're registered for, or see the expiration date of your WTA membership?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you might just be the forward-thinking technology administrator and project manager we're looking for.
Join a great team
The Information Systems Manager will work closely with staff from WTA's fundraising, volunteer trail maintenance and communications teams to manage our Salesforce database. The position will also spearhead upcoming projects to better integrate Salesforce with wta.org and other internal systems.
One of the cool things about coming to work for WTA - besides the great mission, of course - is that each of your 20+ colleagues is a Salesforce user. Those you'll work with most closely are equally excited to help take our Salesforce system to the next level. In fact, your ability to collaborate with us and keep us moving toward our goals is exactly what we need.
How technical is the position?
So how much of a techie do you need to be? You'll be encouraged to work with outside vendors when we need programming and other way-technical expertise (though if you have those skills we'll certainly be impressed.)
Apply by May 31
Click here to view the full job description [PDF} and instructions on how to apply. The application closing date is May 31. The position will be based in our downtown Seattle office at 20-30 hours/week to start with the potential for full time work in the future. Fortunately, WTA offers great benefits even for part-timers.
Disgusting. Creepy. Disease-ridden. Nuisance. There is no end to the derogatory feelings we have about ticks. However, with a bit of awareness, preparation and vigilance, hiking in Washington's tick country can be incredibly awarding and enjoyable.
Tick prevention starts by covering up
Minimizing your exposure to ticks begins with your clothing. Ticks tend to latch on in grassy areas above the cuff of your pant-leg and move upward, looking for dark places to burrow. Here are a few tips for hikers:
- Wear pants and long sleeves -- no shorts! The best choice is convertible pants with a flap over the zippered legs -- this is an excellent tick trap.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants. Tuck your pants into your socks.
- Wear light colors, so you can identify the ticks more easily as they climb.
- Don a cap with a flap behind the neck, if you have one.
There is a lot of discussion about tick repellents. Hikers report that DEET works great for mosquitoes, but not so well for ticks. Permethrin is a better choice for ticks; several brands of clothing are made with Permethrin-infused fabric, or you can buy a spray. Do note that these are pesticides and thoughtfully consider if and how you want to use them.
During and after your hike
Stick to the trail. Ticks like to hang out in shaded, grassy areas. Sticking to an established trail is good prevention, but certainly is not fool-proof. This is one more great reason to keep dogs, who are tick-magnets, on leash.
Tick check frequently. Hikers in tick country will want to do regular tick checks during the day. Brush those bad boys off or crush them between your fingers, but don't worry that they are going to burrow in immediately. Ticks like to cruise around for awhile before they take a bite.
Post-hike tick check. After your hike you'll want to do a thorough check. One hiker we know changes into a complete set of new clothes back at the trailhead. She puts all of her hiking clothes in a garbage bag and seals it, then does a full body check. Favorite tick burrowing sites include the scalp, waist and other dark places where they can hide.
Back home, take a shower. Consider filling up a bathtub or washbasin and tossing in your hiking clothes. Ticks will float up to the surface. Crush them or flush them down the toilet; note that they can survive a wash and rinse cycle.
Check your backpack. Don't forget to give your backpack a full check too. Leave it outside rather bringing it in your home.
Tick First-Aid: five steps to remove a tick
If a tick has found a place to burrow in on your body, don't panic. Chances are very slim that you will end up with Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The Pacific Northwest is a "low risk" area for Lyme and spotted fever is extremely rare. But you do want to get the tick out quickly and completely.
How to check for and remove ticks on your dog
If you hike with a dog in tick country, prevention and tick checks should be a regular part of your routine.
- Talk to your vet about preventative medications.
- Find out how to do a thorough tick check of your dog and get tips for removal.
Follow these five steps for the best way to remove a tick:
- Use an antiseptic or alcohol wipe to clean the area around the tick.
- Grasp the tick with tweezers (or fingers) as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull straight and steady. Do not twist or yank. You do not want to leave the tick's head and legs under the skin.
- If parts do remain under the skin, pinch the skin up and try to scrape the remains away. Use a sterilized needle if you have to dig anything out.
- After you finish, use another antiseptic or alcohol wipe to clean the area.
If you are concerned about disease, save the tick for testing in case you get sick. Watch for symptoms of rash or fever, and if you have concerns, visit your doctor.
The Spokane Regional Health District has an excellent one-pager that covers most of the content in this blog.
You can also send your ticks to the Washington Department of Health for study.
Hikes with known tick issues
Some hikes require extra tick-prevention measures. Don't let ticks scare you off from the wildflowers or other great springtime wonders, but do be careful and read recent Trip Reports to see if ticks have been spotted in the area.
- Columbia River Gorge: Lyle Cherry Orchard, Columbia Hills State Park
- Central Washington: Umtanum Canyon and Ridge, Yakima Skyline
- Eastern Washington: Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (in spring)
Are you (or do you know) a high school student (age 14-18) who loves the outdoors? This summer, Washington Trails Association has openings on two amazing trips for teens who need to complete their service hours or who just want to get into the backcountry with their friends in a super-fun, safe and teamwork-oriented environment.
Girl power needed to fix trails at Troublesome
Where: Troublesome Creek, near West Cady Ridge in the Central Cascades
When: July 14-19
>> Get more info and sign up for the Troublesome Creek trip today
On this awesome week of trail-building, hiking, camping and fun, you'll bunk down at Troublesome Creek campground and work on the Troublesome Loop trail. You'll fix up the trail (widening, installing proper drainage and structures) making it better for all the hikers who come along later in the season.
"WTA has inspired me and given me a new vision of the outdoors. Due to WTA, I know what direction of work I want to go in, and I know I want to live in a place with trails and forests. I love being involved in WTA.”
-Alex Compeau, WTA Youth Ambassador
- Never done trail work? No problem. We'll show you what you need to know.
- Think it might be too hard? Don't stress. We've got a job for everyone.
- Worried you won't know anyone? The best of friends are made on trail. Or, just have a friend sign up with you.
- Is the trip fee prohibitive for your family? Get in touch with us anyway. Scholarships are available!
With WTA providing experienced crew leaders, some camping gear (tents and sleeping pads provided) and all of your meals for the week, the only thing we need is YOU.
Make your summer vacation a week in the backcountry
Where: White River Trail in the Central Cascades
When: August 03-10
>> Get more info and sign up for the White River trip today
If you're a teen with at least 5 days of trail work experience, then then you will not want to miss this co-ed trip to one of the most beautiful valleys in the state.
After backpacking into your camp for the week, you and your crew will work on fixing up drainage and restoring tread on a trail that feeds into the Pacific Crest Trail in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. On your day off, you'll hike through alpine valleys with waterfalls and waterfalls. Summer vacation doesn't get better than this. (Plus, you get service hours!)
Washington State Parks recently launched a new mobile app (for Android and iPhone devices) in celebration of their centennial. The app features park amenities, maps and directions; events and weather alerts; and GPS mapping features.
With more than one hundred state parks, Washington has one of the largest state park systems in the country. Nearly every state park offers some hiking, and many feature miles of overlooked trails full of wildlife, plant-life and landscapes. The new app is one more tool to help you explore them.
Weekend bonus: Washington State Parks is offering fee-free days this weekend, on April 27 and 28, which means you can try out the parks for free before investing in them with a Discover Pass.
Three steps to your next great State Park adventure:
- Download the free app.
- Grab your Discover Pass.
- Use WTA's guide to 10 favorite state parks and 10 lesser-known gems to get started.
Share your experiences
- Already using the app? Let us know how you like it in the comments below.
- Take a great hike in a State Park using the new app? Be sure to tell your hiking community about it by filing a Trip Report.
Starting today, a string of low tides in Puget Sound and along the Pacific Coast bring opportunities to discover an ecosystem usually inaccessible to those who like to keep their feet on solid ground. It's a great way to get outside and explore nature in springtime, whether you choose a city beach or a hiking trail along the coast.
I lived near some of the best tide pooling beaches for a dozen years and never explored them. Then one day at Lincoln Park in West Seattle my young son and I stumbled upon volunteer beach naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium during a low tide. Since then, I take my kids tide pooling a few times each year. We usually go to the same beach, but every time we go there are different creatures to find.
Keep sea creatures, marine environments and your family safe
Plan your trip by consulting NOAA's Tide Predictor online or by carrying a tide table (especially when exploring the Pacific Coast where you could become trapped by a returning tide). For maximum viewing, time your visit for an hour before low tide.
The beach naturalists showed us some cool things -- my son was hooked! They also introduced us to good beach etiquette. Here are my take-aways for you:
- Always step carefully during low tide, avoiding sea creatures like anemones that lie at or just below the surface of the sand. For this reason, I highly recommend leaving kids and toddlers at home until they can understand the impact their actions have on the marine environment.
- Do not collect. While beachcombing and collecting may have been one of your treasured childhood memories, the culture has changed as biologists have witnessed the effect of these actions on the intertidal marine environment. Please do not take home shells or animals; they are all integral components of the ecosystem.
- Touch gently, or simply look. Low tides can be stressful for the sea animals.
- Know your tides. Watch for the incoming tide and for rogue waves, especially on the coast. You can find a tide table for dozens of different locations from NOAA.
Your guide to tide pools and easy-to-get-to beaches
If you want to get started, but don't know where to go, I have put together a guide to three excellent tide pool hikes. I've also listed 13 city beaches, from Olympia to Whidbey Island, that are known for the tide pooling. Have fun!
Want a cool way to visit Olympic National Park while also helping the park's flora and fauna? Consider volunteering in the native nursery that is growing plants for the Elwha River restoration project or on a citizen science project monitoring marmots in the high country of the Olympics.
Transplant seedlings to restore the Elwha River valley
With only 60 feet of Glines Canyon dam all that remains of dam removal on the Elwha River, the river valley restoration is now underway. Sign up to spend two days in the Olympic National Park native plant nursery propagating seedlings that will be used to revegetate the newly exposed reservoirs.
- What: A tour of the Olympic National Park native plant nursery, orientation to the Elwha Revegetation Project, and transplanting work. We will work from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, with a lunch break during that time. Remember to bring your lunch, water, and gardening gloves.
- When: Friday, June 7 and 14; Work from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, with a lunch break during that time.
- Where: Matt Albright Native Plant Center, Sequim, WA
- Post-gardening hike: At the end of the day, visit the Elwha Dam Overlook trail that leads to a viewing platform above the former site of the Elwha Dam and Lake Aldwell reservoir. The trail is just past Port Angeles heading west, about a 45 minute drive from Sequim. This 0.25 mile trail is very easy and accessible for all levels. The first 200 yard section of the trail is even wheelchair accessible!
- To sign up: Contact Jill Zarzeczny (Jill_Zarzeczny@nps.gov Tel: 360.565.3047) Elwha Revegetation Project, Olympic National Park.
Hike the Olympics and monitor marmots in action
Olympic National Park is now accepting volunteer applications for the fourth season of Marmot Monitoring. Each year small groups of volunteers visit designated survey areas to gather timely and vital information about population presence and distribution. Tracking and monitoring these changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population’s status on an ongoing basis.
Volunteers must be capable of hiking to and camping in remote areas, be comfortable navigating off-trail and be able to work on steep slopes. Most survey trips involve a 5-20 mile hike with a significant elevation gain to the survey area. Volunteers then camp out in or near the survey areas and search for marmots two to four days.
A limited number of day hike assignments are also available for the Hurricane Hill, Klahhane Ridge and Obstruction Point survey area trips. To ensure safety, volunteers must travel and monitor with a partner. Up to six individuals may travel in the same group, breaking into smaller groups to visit individual survey areas. Volunteers ages 13-17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Training for volunteers will consist of one training day, featuring both classroom and field training. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation. Camping fees will be waived at Heart O’ the Hills and other front-country sites for the evening before training. Park entrance and backcountry fees will also be waived for volunteers.
How to apply by the May 1 deadline:
- Watch the video (below) and learn more about the program.
- Decide when you and your group are available. Volunteers will likely be in the field for up to a week beginning on August 7, August 14, August 21 or September 5.
- Fill out the application by May 1. (The 2013 application deadline is May 1, but may close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted, or last longer if some trips remain unfilled.)
- Still have questions? Learn more about Olympic Marmot Monitoring program at the park's website.
The San Juan Islands are a treasure trove of hiking trails and natural wonders. But it can be a logistical challenge to get regular trail maintenance volunteers onto the San Juan Islands, so Washington Trails Association recently hopped a ferry to Lopez Island to train the local Lopez Community Trails Network (LCTN) in leadership and trail skills. The training emerged from a partnership between WTA, LCTN, the San Juan County Parks and the Bureau of Land Management.
"What a wonderful group of people to work with," says Arlen Bogaards, WTA's Northwest Regional Manager. "They opened their homes and community to us, and made us feel welcome and part of their tight knit and inclusive community."
The training was held in Odlin Park, an 80-acre San Juan County Park with beach access and 30 campsites. Participants practiced skills like trail sighting, trail layout and turnpike construction, in addition to hands-on trail building.
Bogaards also fielded questions about our work and advocacy for hiking trails and wild lands around the state. Lopetians are no strangers to rallying for a cause. The local community was instrumental in getting 400 acres of BLM land at Iceberg Point designated as part of the 1,000 acres in the San Juans designated as a new National Monument.
"This was a truly remarkable experience," says Arlen Bogaards, "One that I hope we can repeat."
Today marks the start of National Park Week, and to celebrate, the parks have waived entrance fees Apr. 22-26. With three amazing National Parks here in Washington and a week of good weather predicted, it's the perfect time to explore the parks.
As a bonus, Washington State Parks will be celebrating alongside their national counterparts by offering fee-free days on April 27 and 28.
Where to go in Mount Rainier National Park
Play in the snow: Still want to play in the snow? Mount Rainier's still got plenty of it (16 feet are currently on the ground at Paradise). Go play in the snow or squeeze in a late-season snowshoe (checking weather and avalanche conditions and with the rangers before you head out).
The Mazama Ridge snowshoe starts at the Paradise visitor center, following the Stevens Canyon Road - and if you're lucky enough to have a clear day, views of the mountain are stupendous. Depending on conditions, avalanche danger on this trail is moderate on the climb to the ridge, but otherwise low.
Hike: Explore the Carbon River Road, a former road-turned-pedestrian path in the northwest corner of the park. From the guard station, it's five miles of hiking or biking to the Isput Campground, with a few side trails, like the one to Green Lake to check out along the way.
Where to go in Olympic National Park
Hike the Hoh: Explore the temperate rainforest of the Hoh River Valley. Walk the short interpretive Hall of Mosses loop or any number of miles along the Hoh River. Massive trees, enormous ferns and a chance of encountering elk will make you feel like you're in another world.
Hike a rail-turned trail: Enjoy scenic views of Lake Crescent and the surrounding Olympic Mountains while hiking the historic and family-friendly Spruce Railroad Trail, which travels along the lake’s north shore.
Where to go in North Cascades National Park
Hike Thunder Creek: In Day Hiking the North Cascades, Craig Romano calls the Thunder Creek trail "one of the deepest, wildest, and most accessible wilderness valleys in the North Cascades National Park Complex." Even better, you can hike this trail -- up to a 12-mile roundtrip -- right now.
A short family loop: If you're stopping in at the North Cascades Visitor's Center, stretch your legs on the Skagit River trail, 1.8 mile loop leading through the forest, past the Newhalem Creek Campground and alongside the river.
Tips for safe hiking in spring
- Rapidly-changing weather, lingering snow, rain, rising rivers, mud, blown-down trees and bad roads are all potential spring hiking hazards. Use our tips for spring hiking, and learn how to handle them.
- Every hiking party should carry the Ten Essentials, including maps, a compass and a refreshed First Aid kit. Throw in some extra clothing (especially rain gear) and extra food and water.
Sara Kiesler recently signed up for her first day of trail maintenance with Washington Trails Association, and then she blogged about the experience. From carpooling to learning about a cross-cut saw, read what it's like the first time you put on a green hat with WTA. Thanks for your hard work, Sara!
by Sara Kiesler
Almost four years ago to the day, I arrived in Seattle after an epic adventure traveling across the country with two purposes in mind:
- I wanted to give back to the world using my media and journalism experience in some way, and
- I wanted to hike the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
I was able to commemorate both purposes this past Sunday (March 31) by giving back to the trails through a WTA work party.
Carpooling to the party on a favorite mountain
Chris and I signed up for a Tiger Mountain Trail Party, not knowing entirely what we were getting ourselves into but enthusiastically looking forward to it. Early Sunday morning, we put on our new gloves (which we bought only after asking around for quality used ones first), put on some old jeans, and met up with our ride share partners Bob and Betsy on the North side of Seattle.
The stars were in our favor to be in the majestic evergreen Issaquah Alps, as it was the sunniest and warmest day of the year thus far.
The trail up to Tiger Mountain may very well be one of the most traversed in all of the country. Its proximity to Seattle and liberal usage by everyone from horseback riders to mountain bikers to hikers and trail runners has made it a popular favorite. I have hiked its sister trails, West Tiger #3 and West Tiger #2 (epic views at that one), but realized I had never been to the trail we were about to volunteer at—how exciting!
Having fun getting the work done
After arriving at the High Point exit trailhead, we learned the importance of carrying tools the proper way, wearing helmets and safety goggles, and the sense of camaraderie and humor shared by all the WTA staff and volunteers. Many other newcomers to trail parties were in our crew. The staff even put on a somewhat creepy bunny mask to celebrate Easter and passed around chocolate candy and donuts. After a short time, we were off to repair the damaged trail.
And damaged it was. Roots were hanging out all across parts of the trail, a giant muddy pit stretched for 20 yards, side trails were being formed due to trail damage and multiple ramps/steps needed to be added. We definitely had a full day of work ahead of us, but everyone pitched in and made it happen. I learned so much about how to make a rock step (and use a shovel to pry a giant rock out of a pit), moving ferns to a new home to cover unwanted side trails, and using the trail's natural slopes to send runoff in the proper direction. I also learned that you can never have too many buckets, and not all rocks are willing to give in to a sledge hammer.
One of the most exciting moments of the day was being the only person who got to use a gas-powered drill to put rebar into wooden steps in order to build reinforcements. I still can't believe they trusted me with that thing!
A lesson in cross-cutting to close out the day
Finally, just before we called it a day after 8 hours of volunteering on the trail, we got a lesson from WTA's Jim the sawyer (pronounced soy-yer like Tom Sawyer). He unsheathed a 117-year-old saw, and taught us how to heave and ho it back and forth between two people across a half-rotting log to get a feel for the team work needed to use such a simple and awesome machine in wilderness lands. There were lots of technical terms that Jim taught us for the work we were doing, but alas, in my tired brain they all slipped out the other end.
All in all, a very productive and fun day. We definitely plan to go again, and maybe even plan a trail work vacation someday on one of the multi-day backpacking trips WTA leads.
(Special bonus at the end of our Tiger Mountain Trail Party: The Department of Natural Resources provided us with two certificates that, with the addition of a third ((aka one more trail party volunteer day)) we will get a free Discover Pass to many of the Washington State parks. Considering that mine was somehow misplaced when transferring it recently, this is excellent news!)
Sara Kiesler is a former journalist and current communications professional at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. After moving to Seattle from Florida in April of 2009, she spent her first seven months of funemployment hiking a new trail every weekend. Her partner Chris Rodgers recently encouraged her to start a blog of their hikes together, which she hopes grows to include more WTA Trail Parties. You can reach her on Twitter at @sarakseattle.