Breaking Down Barriers to Getting Outside
The history and current reality of racism have created barriers for many people getting outside to enjoy the benefits of nature. When you consider the uneven distribution of funding, information, green spaces and other resources, it is clear that many Washingtonians aren't able to benefit from or deepen connections to nature.
Trails for Everyone is building off of work WTA has been doing for years to make experiences on trail accessible and rewarding for everyone. We’ve been supporting the hiking community since our founding, but in the past decade we have been more intentionally focused on lowering barriers to accessing the outdoors and making our community more welcoming to all. We're doing that in a few ways.
Reducing Barriers to Getting Outside
We want to make it easy for hikers to find the information they need to get outside. We do that in a lot of ways — through our Hiking Guide and by sharing basic hiking skills in our Trail Smarts series, for instance. Our website is full of good information — and thanks to the support of our members, it has always been free.
We’re also doing hands-on work to help people gain new skills and get outside. One way is through our Outdoor Leadership Training program, which in the 5 years since it was founded, has trained more than 300 leaders. Those leaders have taken more than 10,000 people on outdoor excursions.
Creating Safe Spaces
WTA began offering shared-identity trail work parties more than 10 years ago to provide a safe space for volunteers from similar backgrounds and communities, including women and the LGBTQ+ community. This approach expands our volunteer base and helps more people gain skills in trail stewardship and access opportunities in the outdoor industry. Volunteers who have joined us on these trips have said that, while they had considered volunteering in the past, it was this community opportunity that encouraged them to finally sign up.
We've also built successful weeklong Latinx trail crew experiences in partnership with Latino Outdoors, in addition to work parties with other community-based organizations. And we created a New to Trail Work series to lower barriers for folks to try trail stewardship for the first time.
Our leaders are trained how to foster a welcoming environment, how to recognize bias and how to step in as needed to ensure everyone feels safe and supported while volunteering their time for trails.
building Partnerships — the Cornerstone of Trails for Everyone
None of the work we are doing to create trails for everyone is done alone. Partner organizations are key to making this vision a reality. We are constantly learning from one another and finding new ways to collaborate and grow. Together, we can all get more done.
Read about our work in action
Proud to Help Foster an Inclusive Hiking Community
Jun 21, 2018
WTA is striving to create a space where everyone feels welcome and represented. We are grateful to powerful communities that continue to push for visibility and equitable inclusion in the outdoors.
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, all of which affect each other | by Keiko Betcher
Latina Youth Trail Crew Building Trails, Looking to the Future at Mount Rainier
Aug 15, 2017
Nine young women recently spent a week improving Mount Rainier trails, contemplating equity in the outdoors and stoking a passion for adventure, with a little help from Latino Outdoors, WTA and many others.