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Home Our Work Lost Trails Found Backcountry Response Teams: Seven Trips to Sign-up for in 2023

Backcountry Response Teams: Seven Trips to Sign-up for in 2023

WTA's BCRTs combine backpacking and trail work for volunteer trips that range up to 8 days at a time! These trips have opened up trails across Washington in recent years. Here are a few of those trips for 2023 and what makes them special.

March 22, 2023

Trails winding through Washington’s most remote and rugged landscapes are more at risk of falling into disrepair and obscurity every year due to ongoing lack of funding for public lands. That’s why WTA’s Lost Trails Found campaign is building partnerships with land managers and other trail organizations to prevent these trails from being lost forever. We do that in many ways, including advocating for the funding trails need, but we also put trails back on the map by getting boots on the ground. This summer, we’ll be working all across the state, thanks to the help of volunteers.

Some remote trails require more work than a day party can offer. Nestled deep in the backcountry, they often need more time to get to and to repair. Cue our Backcountry Response Teams (BCRTs). These teams combine backpacking and trail work for volunteer trips that range anywhere from 3 to 8 days at a time! These trips are coordinated by experienced trail maintainers who haul in all of their own food, supplies and tools for the duration of their work party. In recent years, our BCRT volunteers have opened up trails near North Fork Sauk Falls, Bead Lake, Crowell Ridge and more.

At the heart of these initiatives are our BCRT volunteers. Their skill, dedication and experience helps revive these vital trails. Some of our trips for this coming summer still have space. Here are a few of those trips, and what makes them special.

Silver Star - with Chinook Trails Association

A grass mountain ridge extends deep into the distance.
Looking east towards Bluff Mountain. Photo by Sheri B.

When: June 8-10

The work: We’re doing a bunch of brushing and treadwork to remove excess vegetation from Silver Star Mountain. 

Why go: This trip is in partnership with Chinook Trails Association, making it a great learning opportunity for those interested in learning more about the Chinook Trail and its development. The Chinook Trail is a 300+ mile loop that encircles the Columbia River Gorge across southern Washington and northern Oregon. Completion of the trail is still a work in progress.

Pick this trip: If you love early season wildflowers, sweeping views and open meadows. The Yacolt Burn was the state’s largest wildfire that swept across this region over 100 years ago, so attending this trip gives a detailed look back into that history.

>> Sign up for a trip to Silver Star

Pasayten - Larch Creek

A  trail snakes along a creek bed and into a forested area.
Larch Creek in the Pasayten. Photo by Happy Chappy.

When: July 8-12

The work: Logout is the name of the game for this trip. Larch Creek is difficult to access early in the season due to its high elevation, so this crew will be one of the first to work there in the 2023 season. Before we can do more trail restoration later on, first we need to clear the trail of deadfall!

Why go: This area is ripe with wildflowers during the early summer months. Also, Larch Creek is full of — you guessed it — larches. While they won’t be boasting their golden colors this early in the year, it’s a good opportunity to enjoy them at a quieter time of year.

Pick this trip: If you’re eager to see some of the northernmost and remote recreation opportunities in the state. The trail to the worksite will take our crew over Three Fools, Billy Goat, and Larch Pass!

>> Sign up for a trip to Pasayten - Larch Creek

Boulder Shelter

A mountain is reflected in a peaceful and clear alpine lake.
Great views at Boulder Shelter. Photo by Eric Nagle.

When: Aug. 9-13

The work: Expect to do some logout and brushing work along most of this route. If required, our crew will perform some tread and drainage work below Constance Pass.

Why go: This BCRT allows the opportunity to maintain alpine trails near Mount Constance. While there, learn about the surrounding mountains like Buckhorn Mountain, Warrior Peak and more.

Pick this trip: If you’re eager to explore the more mountainous sections of Olympic National Park! Campsites and side trails along this route are beautiful and diverse.

>> Sign up for a trip to Boulder Shelter

Nannie Ridge

A hiker wearing a backpack stands on a subalpine ridge.
Nannie Ridge. Photo by jdearman.

When: Aug. 9-13

The work: This project is a big lift and will involve several crews. The specific work could change day-to-day, but projects on the docket include logging, routine maintenance and even establishing an entire new trail segment.

Why go: This trip is done in partnership with Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW), which means not only will you get to experience an equine perspective of trails, but the load you will carry will be lighter too! Our friends at BCHW will be packing in all tools (and maybe even some extra snacks).

Pick this trip: If you can’t get enough of volcano views! Besides the field of huckleberries near our planned camp, a spur trail to the summit of Nannie Peak offers views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier and parts of the Goat Rocks.

>> Sign up for a trip to Nannie Ridge

North Fork Sullivan Creek

Ridge above North Fork Sullivan Creek. Photo by Anna Roth.

A trail crosses a rock hillside with trees and brush.
North Fork Sullivan Creek. Photo by Anna Roth. 

When: Aug. 17-20

The work: Work on a smorgasbord of projects like tread repair, drainage improvements, blow-down logout and more! Each component helps WTA get the trail in tip-top shape and secure its access for years.

Why go: The 41,000 acre Salmo-Priest Wilderness is in the extreme northeast corner of Washington. It offers vast forests, dramatic ridgetops and international views!

Pick this trip: If you’re looking for unique variety, both in landscapes and in trail projects.

>> Sign up for a trip to North Fork Sullivan Creek

Shedroof Divide - Jackson Creek

Bear grass grows along a lush trail.The trail near Shedroof Divide. Photo by Holly Weiler.

When: Sep. 7-10 

The work: This section of trail hasn’t gotten maintenance love in a few years, so we plan to log out blowdowns, restore tread, cut back encroaching vegetation and secure proper draining to prevent further erosion. 

Why go: We’ll be right on the border of Washington and Idaho, which means we have a chance of connecting with our friends at Idaho Trails Association mid-trip!

Pick this trip: If you’re interested in checking-out the seldom visited Salmo-Priest Wilderness. The Shedroof Divide Trail is great for views of the Okanogan Highlands and the Idaho Selkirks — and it’s also one of the few areas in Washington where large mammals like wolves, moose and grizzlies thrive.

>> Sign up for a trip to Shedroof Divide - Jackson Creek

Entiat River: Late season maintenance

Scorched dead trees stand along a rushing river.
Burned section of trail near the Entiat River. Photo by Must Hike Must Eat.

When: Sep. 13-17

The work: The Entiat River Trail was ravaged by wildfires in 2006 and 2015 respectively, so portions of the trail require extensive work every year to clear old snags and debris. Most of the logout work on the main trail will have been completed by this late in the season, so this crew will turn its attention to tread and drainage work.

Why go: This trip will give all an appreciation for fire ecology in the ever-changing landscape of Washington. The Entiat River flows from the Entiat Glacier and runs from three peaks: Seven Finger Jack, Mount Fernow and Mount Maude.

Pick this trip: If you love a sense of accomplishment and putting the final touches on a season of hard work. It’s one of the last opportunities for trail maintenance deep in the backcountry in 2023, so help us make the most of it!

>> Sign up for a trip to Entiat River: Late season maintenance

If you’ve hiked on a backcountry trail our BCRT crews have revived, you know what a big difference these trail parties make! Even if you haven’t, maybe you have experience maintaining trails, or are looking to get outside this summer and make some new friends. If so, consider signing up for an upcoming BCRT!