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Improving Trail Experiences

Trails are the backbone of outdoor adventure and recreation in Washington. From protecting your favorite weekday escape or the backcountry experience of sleeping under the stars in one of Washington's wilderness areas, WTA advocates for new trail systems across the state and works to protect the wild places the surround the trails we love.

Trails are the backbone of outdoor adventure and recreation in Washington. From protecting your favorite weekday escape or the backcountry experience of sleeping under the stars in one of Washington's wilderness areas, WTA advocates for new trail systems across the state and works to protect the wild places that surround the trails we love.

High Pass Trail by Kevin Mack.jpgExploring the incredibly green High Pass Trail. Photo by Kevin Mack.

Current Trail Priorities

Advocating for hiking trails on the Teanaway Community Forest

Background: Washington's largest single land purchase in the past 45 years was completed in 2013 when the state bought the 50,000-acre lands now call the Teanaway Community Forest. Currently the community forest does not have a designated trail system.

  • As a member of the forest's Advisory Committee, WTA is working with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (agencies which jointly manage the land) to develop recommendations for the forest's management plan.
  • WTA is advocating for a robust hiking trail system on the forest.

Creating trail plans to meet the demand of Washington's hikers

The challenge: By the year 2040, Washington state's population is expected to increase by 2 million people. Currently about 8 out of every 10 Washingtonians got outside at a county, city or state park in the past year. Yet according to the 2013 Washington State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, current facilities, including trails, can only satisfy 30 to 40 percent of the demand for recreation across the state.

  • WTA is working with land managers across the state to develop trail plans that ensure rich, equitable hiking opportunities for the future. We are currently working on trail planning projects along the Columbia Gorge, in Bellingham and in North Central Washington.

Managing wilderness within Mount Rainier National Park

Background: Mount Rainier National Park is currently considering updating its wilderness plan, which could impact the hiking experience in some of the park's most pristine areas. Wilderness trails at Mount Rainier have become increasingly popular, putting some beloved trails under pressure. Hearing from hikers about the future wilderness plan will help the National Park Service strike a balance between preserving Mount Rainier's beauty and environmental integrity with access for trail lovers.

  • WTA will continue to monitor the planning process and offer comments on any proposals presented by the National Park Service.

Innovative solutions to partnerships and our recreation pass system

Background: After collecting comments from constituents last fall, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has introduced the "Recreation Not Red-Tape Act" (S.2706 and H.R.4790) to promote job growth in the outdoor recreation industry, create new opportunities for public and private partnerships and simplify some components of the outdoor recreation pass system on federally managed lands.

  • WTA will monitor the bill as it progresses through Congress to ensure it benefits hikers in Washington and across the nation.

Planning new trails in Whatcom County

Background: Hikers have a new opportunity to help Washington's Department of Natural Resources plan trails in Whatcom County. There are currently no designated trails on DNR land within our county, so this is your chance to participate in the early phase of trail planning so we can create recreation opportunities that reflect the need of our community.

  • WTA is participating in a committee of outdoors enthusiasts to create a vision for Whatcom County trails with DNR.

Ensuring a strong future for Washington's cross-state trail

Background: The John Wayne Pioneer Trail is the longest rail-trail reaching across Washington from east to west. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has begun a planning process to shape the future of the eastern section of Iron Horse State Park and the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. In 2014, State Parks completed planning for the 34 mile section of railroad corridor between Malden and the Idaho border. The current planning process will address the remaining 140 mile portion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail that extends from Beverly Bridge to Malden.

  • At the end of 2015, State Parks began working with a citizen advisory committee to address management concerns and plan for recreational use on this section of the trail. WTA has been included on the committee and continues to advocate for access and collaborative management between the state and communities along the trail.


      >> Sign up for the Trail Action Network to learn when important decisions are being made on trail experience issues.



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