Washington Trails Association's trail maintenance program is a year-round endeavor. In the summer, our volunteers tackle high elevations trails in Washington's national forests and national parks. But what about the other nine months of the year?
In fall, winter and spring, when the snow levels are low, county and city park managers come calling. WTA generally takes on one or two big front-country projects each year. "Front-country" projects are on trails that are accessible to hikers and trail runners year-round near urban areas. Because the high country is snowed in for so much of the year, these trails are heavily used and very important for our active and growing population.
Our largest front-country project so far in 2011 has been Evans Creek Preserve. It's one of WTA's Ten Signature Trail Projects. This is a new trail project on an old farmstead for the City of Sammamish, an emerging partnership that has worked out extremely well for everyone involved. Trail laid out and constructed by WTA will run through and skirt a variety of habitats in this 179-acre preserve, including wetlands, meadows and forest. When complete in October, hikers will be able to choose from a one-third mile gravel loop, a longer loop of over a mile and a short ADA-accessible loop.It's sometimes been a muddy mess for volunteers this spring, but have they ever made progress! From March 1 to May 1, WTA hosted 41 work parties at Evans Creek Preserve. There has been something for everyone to do, from the youngest (age 10) and newest volunteers to the oldest (age 80) and most seasoned veterans. More than 250 different volunteers gave 665 days of time to the project over that two month period. We had several youth crews out (including our first-ever Spring Break trips), corporate groups, and lots of first timers and regulars.
What's more, these volunteers accomplished so much. They followed little pink flags and built more than 3000 feet of new trail, completing the short inner loop trail and making major progress on the longer outer loop trail. In the meantime, they encountered massive amounts of mud, huge stumps and roots and plenty of moss, alder and ferns. Volunteers who like to build structures have had plenty to do, building more than 200 feet of both puncheon and turnpike. And then there was the gravel - eight dump trucks worth - that is taking care of the remaining mud.
When these trails are complete, Evans Creek Preserve is going to be a lovely place to visit. The place is a haven for birds - the mornings are a particularly fine time to birdwatch and enjoy the avian activity. The terrain is gentle, and the trails move in and among wetlands, meadows and airy forests.
Interested in this trail and project? The City of Sammamish is currently taking a turn on the work and is hosting their own work parties. Then WTA will return in the fall for two more weeks. After the City builds a parking lot and restroom facilities it will be open to the public. And by the next rainy season, you'll have another low-elevation trail to choose from.
- May 5, 2011