Everything You Need to Know About the Washington Trails Association

October 22, 2020

An increasing number of people are acknowledging the positive impact that trails have on their lives. Bikers, hikers, horseback riders, and all who use trails for pleasure, relaxation, and just about all other purposes benefit the most when trails are given attention for development. Moreover, trails promote inclusivity and equity. Hence, the birth of the Washington Trails Association.

What They Do

The Washington Trails Association is an organized group of hikers standing up for trails and wildlands. This community has been at the cutting edge of wilderness protection, forest restoration, connecting hikers, and maintaining trails despite dwindling trail funds. Their role in Washington’s environmental community is constitutive in preserving the wild that people love to explore, protecting nature for everyone to enjoy, and making it sustainable to last for the succeeding generations.

Mission and Values

The devotion to upholding social, racial, gender, and economic equity is mirrored in its mission statement. It is also a campaign to awaken the spirit of volunteerism and a call to reunite with nature.

Their values echo the need for mental and social well-being, to arouse altruism and recoup the fading compassion in humanity. The Washington Trails Association is a powerful voice that encourages those who have a genuine concern for nature and humankind to take part in bettering the world any way they can.

Their Mission Statement

Washington Trails Association mobilizes hikers and everyone who loves the outdoors to explore, steward and champion trails and public lands.

What They Believe

That exploring nature is good for people’s hearts, minds and bodies, and that hiking is a powerful way for everyone to connect with Washington’s natural wonders. That people will protect the places they love to hike, from local parks to remote wilderness. It is vitally important for everyone to have the opportunity to access the outdoors, and we are committed to reducing barriers to hiking trails and lands.

History

WTA Louise Marshall Washington Trails Association (WTA) gives voice to the hikers in Washington state. The WTA is devoted to protecting hiking trails and wildlands, taking volunteers out to manage the trails, and promoting hiking as a fun and healthy way for people to explore the outdoors. They history started in 1966 as Signpost magazine, founded by the late guidebook author, Louise Marshall. Surviving the waning budget, malfeasance of program allocations, and other challenges, WTA has grown into a strong community of hikers that speak out for trails and wildlands.

WTA Impact in the Community

WTA Community The Association has connected with more communities to support their plausible works in outdoor spaces. Zealous in creating partnerships that surmount the ingrained effects of racism, the WTA is working hard to become an equitable organization that provides a safe place and easy access to trails for everyone, regardless of skin color and gender. They have organized programs to reach out to the youth and strengthen families.

Programs

One of the best things about the WTA is their wholesome programs and activities for Families, Youth, Educators, and the Black Community. Truly, they endeavor to help build communities that harmonize, care and coexist with each other and with nature.

Accomplishments

Embolden thousands of hikers to speak up for recreation at a governor-declared holiday

Caused the Department of Interior to back off of a plan for steep fee increases at Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks

Secured a partnership with Puget Sound Energy, which allowed them to build miles of new trail

Established a collaborative effort with the Friends of the Columbia Gorge and a grant from the National Park Service in building two new loops at Lyle Cherry Orchard

Helped preserve forests and habitat around Oyster Dome, Lily Lake, and Samish Overlook

Enacted Lost Trails Found campaign which is aimed at helping to reclaim our three signature lost trails and protect dozens of more backcountry trails across the state

Initiated in saving the Boundary Trail, instituted wildfire funding, and organized trail maintenance trips in Washington’s backcountry

Joined in the fundraising campaign of hiking and climbing communities launched by Forterra to purchase the land abutting the Lake Serene trail, guaranteeing the trail will remain protected and accessible forever

Supported the Teanaway Community Forest committee of their 15-year vision for trails

Reopened trail works despite COVID-19, adapting safety protocols and following guidelines

Created several networks (and the number is increasing) to build a sustainable future for trails

Advocated the legislation of vital funding for public lands -the Great American Outdoor Act - which has already passed the Congress and is now moved to the president’s desk for final approval

Helped Ridgefield staff on several trail-restoration work parties

Find more of their accomplishments here.

Events

WTA Events

Get involved! The Washington Trails Association organizes events for their members, volunteers and outreaches. They have an annual photo contest, trail work parties, outdoor leadership training workshops, their signature fundraising event - the Hike-a-Thon, and many more.

Some of the lined-up activities were cancelled due to the pandemic. Connect with them to get updates on their movements.

In Person Events

Virtual Events

Ongoing Activities

Hiking Tips

WTA Hiking Tips

Hiking with Kids

Parents might feel their outdoor fun is over once they have kids, but it should not be the case. Hiking can be customized as kid-friendly, and it really is a perfect way to create memories together. Spending time on the trail is an excellent opportunity to grow closer as a family; it invests in children’s personal growth and experience enrichment.

So, what do you need to do?

  • Make flexible goals - hiking with kids doesn’t need to be reaching one point to another; exploring nature and enjoying the adventure is the goal in itself
  • Shift your mindset into a patient teacher - do your research and be prepared for never-ending queries. Remember to make the trip educational.
  • Be a competent guide - you should be very acquainted with the features ahead. Choose shorter trails and consider that children love waters - ponds, lakes, waterfalls, etc.…
  • Check weather conditions and prepare for weather changes
  • Make your trip appeal to your kid’s sense of exploration and adventure
  • Look for discoveries along the way

Other tips and tricks

  • Bring all the essentials - First aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, stuffed animal, extra clothes, special walking stick, etc.
  • Necessity stops - Allow your kids to stop for snacks and short rests.
  • Tag along with friends - Camaraderie is an essential value to develop in children. Encourage your child to invite a friend on the trip. Sharing experiences with others boost their morale and comradeship.
  • Assign leaders - When hiking with more than one child, make sure that everyone gets to be a leader and set the pace.
  • Keep kids occupied - visit this page for ideas to keep your kids entertained on the trail.

Hiking by Season

  • Fall Hiking in fall gives you astonishing views and crisp autumn air. It is the perfect time to discover ghost towns in your historic hikes.
  • Winter If you find tromping through snow drifts enjoyable, winter hiking is for you. This is the season for spotting beautiful wildlife. But if not, you can explore the lower elevation trails in Washington which are already open to the coming season.
  • Spring This time of the year is best for hiking with your dog. Hiking in the islands will coddle your eyes with breathtaking scenery and a wide variety of habitats.
  • Summer Washington is brimming with loops, wilderness areas, giant views, national forests, historic trails and roadside rambles to explore in your summer hike.

How You Can Help

WTA Send Help

Donate

There are many ways to give for the causes of the WTA.

You can join the Fireside Circle honors WTA members who contribute $500 or more annually to Washington Trails Association. Thanks to the generous support of our Fireside Circle members, the association can keep working to build trails for everyone, forever.

They also offer a charitable plan if you wish to include Washington Trails Association in your will or estate plans. This will provide a long term benefit both to your family and WTA.

A fundraising campaign is another brilliant idea. Here are helpful tools to start your personalized fundraising page.

Or make a donation. Trails are crucial in building healthy communities and a healthy environment. By making a donation to WTA today, you're helping develop and maintain trails that will last forever.

Your generosity will reach far and wide in helping bring the benefits of trails and public lands to everyone!

WTA Become a Member

Your donation goes a long way. Join and give today, and enjoy the perks of membership.

If you have questions, please contact their membership team at membership@wta.org.

Volunteer

WTA has really made a mark in Washington with its legacy of advocacy for hiking and wildlands. Undoubtedly, one of their most remarkable achievements is the volunteer trail maintenance program, spearheaded by the former executive director, Greg Ball. The program made an impressive growth. That first year, in 1993, volunteers completed 250 hours of trail work on National Parks and Forest trails; in 2017, volunteers logged more than 160,000 hours. It has become the most extensive program of its kind in the nation to date.

The association is always open for everyone willing to go down the line for their advocacies. Experienced and newbies are welcome! Sign up to find a work party and enjoy the perks of volunteering.

If you have more questions, reach them at volunteer@wta.org or 206.625.1367.

The best time to help is NOW.