Trail Planning Takes Time: Scouting Trails in the Teanaway Community Forest
WTA is helping bring the Teanaway Community Forest trail plan to life, scouting an existing web of unofficial trails for the ones that will be able to sustain hikers, bikers and riders for years to come.
by Allie Tripp
Trail planning is a long game. It can take years — sometimes decades — to bring a trail system to life. In the popular Teanaway area north of I-90 between Snoqualmie Pass and Ellensburg, those years of planning are finally bearing fruit.
We’ve been updating you on the Teanaway Community Forest for years. In 2018, following almost two years of collaborative planning and input from you, the recreation plan for the forest was finalized. The next step towards bringing this plan to life has WTA staff working with the Department of Natural Resources to do on-the-ground scouting of trails in the area.
Bringing a plan to life
The Teanaway Community Forest connects the towns of Roslyn and Cle Elum through the Towns to Teanaway project to 50,000+ acres of public lands, open to a variety of recreational opportunities. Currently, there are no sanctioned or official trails on the forest, but there are many user-built trails that are well-loved by the community. Our role in executing the recreation plan is in scouting these trails is to evaluate which trails should be officially sanctioned and maintained in the next few years.
“Right now there is a high potential for folks to get lost, and we’d like to help create a trail system that is easier to navigate and safe for all users,” notes Alan Carter Mortimer, WTA’s Regional Field Program Manager. “We’re evaluating trails based on their safety, how well established (or popular) they are and how much work we can anticipate to bring them up to standard.”
Rebooting trails that can sustain a popular recreation hub
WTA is currently scouting trails within the area designated for “high use” recreation on the forest between the Middle Fork of the Teanaway and all the way to the main ridge above Roslyn. Partners from Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Evergreen Mountain BIke Alliance, local community members and other user groups are also offering input on trails they see as high priority. Once all the necessary data is collected on these user-built trails, WTA will work with DNR and other partners to select priority trails for maintenance and rerouting hopefully as soon as the summer of 2021.
Solidifying this part of the trail plan will help expand recreation opportunities and boost the local recreation economy, both goals of our Trails Rebooted campaign for this popular recreation area.
Austin Easter, WTA’s volunteer vacations coordinator, was one of the staff members out scouting this fall. “There are some incredible sandstone monolith formations in the area. I know the folks who hike, bike and run out here love this place, and it’s easy to see why.”
Looking to check out the Teanaway Community Forest sooner rather than later? DNR notes, “Hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers may use the existing, unmaintained trails and gated roads at their own risk until sanctioned trails are established.” And as always, be sure to leave the area better than you found it.