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Caring for Our Trails: Washington Trails Association

By May 3, 2022Parks
WTA work parties

In Spring 2022 Connections, we profiled organizations that do critical work to maintain and preserve our trails; this is the fifth and last article in this series. Consider how you can do your part to help them protect our trails for current and future generations. 

How does the Washington Trails Association (WTA) partner with King County to maintain and preserve county trails like the Grand Ridge Park trail?
Our partnership with King County has been one of the longest and most successful for this organization, spanning more than 20 years. We work together to identify trail projects that will improve the county trail system and provide a positive experience for WTA volunteers. This relationship has benefited hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers across the county.

WTA has completed major projects like trail construction at Grand Ridge and the Margaret’s Way Trail on Squak Mountain and returns year-after-year to perform annual maintenance to keep these trails in great shape.

WTA often works closely with the county’s backcountry trail crew, which is a team that moves across all regions of the county’s park system.

During our partnership with King County, WTA has hosted more than 1,000 work parties, helping more than 13,555 people give back to trails in the area.

How is the WTA involved in maintaining the Grand Ridge Park trail today?
Since completing the initial work for this trail system, WTA volunteers have returned regularly to keep this area in good shape. Between 2016 and 2020, WTA hosted 179 work parties with more than 3,000 volunteers (including 307 youth) getting outside and giving back.

How can Issaquah Highlands residents get involved with the WTA to maintain and preserve our Grand Ridge Park trail? 
Anyone interested should consider joining us for a day of volunteer trail work. You can see our current schedule and signup online. No experience is necessary, and we provide all the tools and training.

Anyone 10 years and older is welcome to volunteer. Volunteers under 18 must be signed in by their parent or guardian. Anyone under the age of 14 must be registered for the work party and accompanied by an adult.

We do not currently have any work parties scheduled for Grand Ridge Park, but there are many opportunities throughout King County and beyond. We have work parties almost every day of the year year-round.

Why should someone consider joining a WTA trail work party?
Volunteering is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air and meet some fun people who also love the outdoors. More than that, volunteering helps you understand what goes into caring for trails. Trails aren’t just paths in the woods; they are intentional systems that require care and attention. If you enjoy exploring the outdoors, you should be a part of keeping it in shape for hikers that follow. Plus, there is something very satisfying about a day spent outside doing physical work and being able to see what you have accomplished at the end of the day – for many of us with desk jobs, this is a special treat.

What kinds of work do WTA work party volunteers do to maintain trails?
Every day on the trail is a little different. Our work party rules are followed in this order:
1) Be safe!
2) Have fun!
3) Get some work done!

Work can take a lot of different forms, from big projects like building bridges and rock walls, to small important tasks like improving a trail’s drainage to reduce water damage and cutting back bush. We encourage volunteers to try new projects and tools during the day, to mix it up, and learn about all the different types of work and why it’s important. Learn more in our Volunteer FAQs.

Kindra Ramos is the WTA communications and outreach director. Work party photos provided by the WTA. 

What is it like to volunteer with the WTA?

“I served a few years ago with the WTA to help finish the loop around the water towers in Grand Ridge Park. Enjoyed working with the folks and actually acquired a few new skills. Fun being out in the green area and was a good introduction to the trail system, since we had just moved from South King County. Well-organized and adapted to all skill levels. Nice investment in our surrounding neighborhood.”

— Pete Super, Issaquah Highlands resident