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New Trails in Wild Sky?

Posted by Jonathan Guzzo at Jul 11, 2011 01:20 PM |

The newly-minted Wild Sky Wilderness has a trails plan for new hiking trails. It's open for public comment until October 1, 2011.

If you haven't visited the Wild Sky Wilderness yet, you're not alone. While the newly-minted wilderness area boasts craggy, ice-limned peaks, deep forested valleys and burbling streams - features to gladden the heart of any hiker - it lacks trails. Only a few trails thread the Wilderness, and none for many miles. Wilderness isn't just about trails, of course. It's an important source of wildlife habitat and clean water, among many other critical values. Still, it would be good for hikers to be able to venture into Wild Sky without having to travel cross-country, if only to see what they helped protect.

That might become a reality over time with the advent of a new Wild Sky Trails Plan. The link includes all the planning documents published by the Forest Service.

The Wild Sky Wilderness Act required the Forest Service to develop a trail plan for the area. Developing trails there has been a challenge, due largely to the sheer vertical nature of much of the Wild Sky country. But over the years, the Skykomish Ranger District has published planning documents for a number of trail opportunities in the area, and they've compiled them into trails plan that is open for public comment until October 1.

At a June 23 open house designed to solicit public input on hiker and equestrian trail priorities in the Wild Sky, forest managers were clear about the fact that there is little money to develop new trails, but were also guardedly optimistic about potential sources of grant funding. We won't see the entire suite of trails they've outlined for a very long time, if ever. But with some luck and a lot of hard work, the next few seasons could bring new hiking opportunities in the Wild Sky.

We encourage hikers, particularly those who know the territory, to take a few minutes and respond to the Forest Service's request for comment. Here are some things you might include in your comment letter:

  • Let the District know that new trails in the Wild Sky are a priority for you and for all hikers, and that they should be a priority of the region
  • Stress that all the hikers who helped get the Wild Sky bill passed are excited about visiting our newest wilderness area.
  • Two of the best opportunities in the proposal are Ragged Ridge and Lake Isabel. If you're so inclined, mention these in your comment letter.
Please send comments by October 1 to Tom Davis at the Skykomish Ranger District. He can be reached at or by mail at Skykomish Ranger District, 74920 NE Stevens Pass Hwy, PO Box 305, Skykomish, WA  98288.


Lake Isabel and Ragged Ridge?

Can you tell us more about why WTA thinks that this area is the best area to focus on? I haven't been to the area myself, but I was at the FS meeting where we were encouraged to vote for our two most preferable places to build a trail, and a least preferable. While there were some green "most highly preferred" dots placed on that area of the map, I saw a lot of red "I'd rather not build a trail here right now" dots in the same area.

I took photos of the two maps that people used to place their "votes." I'll post them as soon as I can, so that other people can get a better idea what I'm talking about.

Posted by:

"Sawin' Ya" on Jul 19, 2011 11:44 AM

Lake Isabel and Ragged Ridge

Lake Isabel and Ragged Ridge are two really beautiful areas in Wild Sky, and both are close to the boundary. Those will be good places for the Forest Service to start developing trails in the area, and we think they'll provide significant bang for buck.

Since Wild Sky is so steep in so many places, it's going to be hard to build trails into the interior. It can be done, but it'll take some time.

Posted by:

"Jonathan Guzzo" on Jul 19, 2011 11:44 AM