WTA spent a lot of time in 2019 listening to partners, community based organizations and people who love hiking in urban spaces. But we were also getting work done on the ground, too. In 2019, WTA volunteers contributed more than 7,000 hours of work to urban trails and parks.
In addition to trail work, we've also made our Hiking Guide more robust so you can find your next nearby hike a little easier. In total, we have over 140 urban hikes in the guide, and that number continues to grow. And, thanks to hikers like you, those hikes have over 12,000 trip reports on them, which means you have access to the latest conditions on the trail from people who have visited them recently!
Take a look at some of the other things we've been up to in the early stages of The Trail Next Door below.
MAINTAINING AND BUILDING URBAN TRAILS
McKinley Park (pictured above) is one of the oldest parks in Tacoma. And, as it's right next to I-5, it provides easy access to an oasis of green in the middle of a heavily-developed area. It features lots of trees and wide trails, as well as a nice playground for kids. A few dozen volunteers joined us in 2019 to help improve trails for hikers in the park.
In the fall of 2019, we returned to Bainbridge Island and the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial for a youth and families work party. This was our second year working at the memorial to support restoration efforts in partnership with Northwest Youth Corps and the National Parks Conservation Association. Volunteers removed invasive plants, planted tress and designed horticultural displays. This project shows that sometimes trail work itself isn't the only thing green spaces need to thrive.
LEARNING FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
WTA partnered with GirlTrek and the U.S. Forest Service in 2019 to learn more about what benefits people enjoy from walking outside and how to make it easier for more people to get out on trail. In October, we hiked together in Swan Creek Park in Tacoma where we discussed the different aspects of what people want to know about urban hikes, which varies widely from information that is relevant to backcountry hiking experiences.
As we developed The Trail Next Door, we spent time in the field with staff from King County Parks who work to acquire land and green spaces. They shared with us how they prioritize what land to buy that best serves the communities they work in. They hope to maximize the impact of new spaces by looking for properties that are in areas that are low income, have a higher-than-average rate of health disparities and where many people are within a 10-minute walk of the green space. We supported the King County Parks levy last year to help ensure the parks department has the resources it needs to do the important work of expanding access to nature and green spaces across the county.
see what else we're working on
Celebrating Partnership: WTA and King County Parks
Jun 27, 2019
On Monday, WTA staff joined King County Executive Dow Constantine for a hike on the Margaret’s Way trail. The trail is a strong example of what can happen when a government agency like King County Parks teams up with a non-profit organization like WTA.
Fourth Graders, Fifth Graders and Fun: WTA Youth Ambassador Leads Classroom Hikes
May 23, 2019
The Youth Ambassador Program gives leadership training opportunities to teens, who use their skills to plan trails-related projects in their own communities.
The Beauty and Power of Urban Forests
Apart from the pleasure of a green view, there are many tangible benefits associated with urban forests, including improved mental and physical health, economic advantages and community health | by Keiko Betcher
2019 Accomplishments: How Hikers Changed Trails for the Better this Year
2019 was a year to celebrate for Washington trails. Hikers all across the state have helped WTA fix trails, advocate for funding and ensure access to the trails we all love. Thank you for helping us build a future where there are trails for everyone, forever.