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Then and Now: The First Online Trip Report

Posted by Erika Haugen-Goodman at Mar 04, 2016 11:15 AM |

Hear about the humble beginnings of and the first trip report filed online.

The hiking community has always been at the heart of everything WTA does, from the amazing volunteers that help build and maintain trails, to the growing number of trip reporters who leave trail conditions and tips for other hikers. Trip reports have been a part of WTA since the beginning, when Signpost was just getting started in 1966.

Then: when trip reports went digital

To get a bit of background on how trip reports transitioned from print to the internet in the 1990's, we recently talked with Bill Sunderland, a former board member, longtime volunteer and the mastermind behind WTA's website.

Check out a snippet of the interview below:

(Note: Bill mentions Dan Nelson in the interview. Dan worked as both the Washington Trails magazine editor while also authoring a number of hiking guidebooks for Mountaineers Books, covering trails in the Olympics, Cascades, and Eastern Washington.)

Now: more trip reports, same community spirit

Today's trip reports live exclusively online. They contain condition reports, photos, videos and tips on where flowers, fungi or fall foliage is peaking. Hikers can ask each other questions in comments, or browse the freshest reports via WTA's mobile app. There are also a lot more people filing reports. In 2015, we received more than 12,000 trip reports from thousands of hikers all over Washington, and we expect that number to continue growing.

From the earliest days of The Signpost to internet infancy to modern trip reporting, hikers continue to help each other and land managers spot problems, stay safe and discover new places to explore. Thanks to Bill Sunderland and the many other WTA volunteers, board members, and employees past who have helped steward the trip reporting community along the way.

Read more about our history and anniversary at