Little Si trail offers hikers something new on each trip

July 12, 2011

As hikers approached the final uphill stretch of the Little Si trail, the downy woodpecker curiously peered around a tree and scooted up the side, pecking lightly at the bark.

People continued up the minor switchback and the black-and-white bird with a red crest spread its wings and swooped over to another tree near the trail. It seemed accustomed to the regular foot traffic as it alertly spied on passers-by from just a few feet off the trail.

While the woodpecker might be the only wildlife you encounter during a trip up the rocky mountain face, the 4.4-mile Little Si trail will make you want to return — and probably soon.

Bob Dubose and Kyoko Maruyama, both of Bellevue, enjoy the view from the top of Little Si after their July 6 hike. Contributed

Beth and Duane Carlson, of Bellevue, have come back a dozen times, they said while basking in the midday sun July 6.

The couple was planning to catch up on some yard work that morning, but the limited prospect of having another 80-degree day turned their thoughts toward the mountains.

“I was like, ‘You know what, let’s go hiking,’” said Beth, an avid outdoorswoman at 60.

And although he wanted to get work done in the yard, Duane said it didn’t take much convincing to change his mind.

“It took her two sentences to talk me out of doing yard work,” said Duane, 71, a retired doctor.

The Little Si trail, one of the more popular hikes in King County, along with the famed Mount Si trail, starts out steep, levels out a bit and tests hikers of all ages with a steep and rough finish.

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Got a favorite trail? Express it in a haiku

June 21, 2011

Ever feel poetically inspired during a hiking expedition? The Washington Trails Association invites hikers to write a haiku about their favorite trails.

“I just think it’s a unique way to showcase a trail,” WTA communications director Lauren Braden said. “It’s a different way to talk about a trail other than the trail goes up the mountain and turns right at the lake.”

A haiku is composed of 17 sound units divided into three parts. The first line has five syllables. The second line has seven syllables. It closes with another five-syllable line.

Hikers can submit their poems at www.wta.org. Click on “Support” and then “My WTA” before the July 1 deadline. The WTA may use the haiku on its website or in its magazine.

One poem will be drawn at random, and its author will win a WTA baseball cap.

Express affection for Washington trails in haiku contest

June 18, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 18, 2011

Got a favorite trail? Express it in a haiku

Ever feel poetically inspired during a hiking expedition? The Washington Trails Association invites hikers to write haikus about their favorite trails.

“I just think it’s a unique way to showcase a trail,” WTA communications director Lauren Braden said. “It’s a different way to talk about a trail other than the trail goes up the mountain and turns right at the lake.”

A haiku is composed of 17 sound units divided into three parts. The first line has five syllables. The second line has seven syllables. It closes with another five-syllable line.

Hikers can submit poems online before the July 1 deadline. The WTA may use the haiku on its website or in its magazine.

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Celebrate National Trails Day on Cougar Mountain

May 31, 2011

Lend a hand on Cougar Mountain to mark National Trails Day.

Join the Washington Trails Association for the occasion, June 4, for a work party on the mountain. The event is designed for families and children 10 and older. Sign up at the organization’s website, www.wta.org, or call 206-625-1367.

State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and the state Department of Natural Resources encourage residents to celebrate the 19th annual National Trails Day by volunteering on state and public lands.

Volunteers play a key role in keeping state recreation areas open and safe for the public.

The public helps maintain trails and facilities, picks up litter, participates in work parties, provides information to visitors, and alerts law enforcement to illegal activities. Each year, volunteers spend tens of thousands of hours working to improve recreation on state-managed lands.

Governor approves $30 user fee for state parks, lands

May 17, 2011

The cost to keep Lake Sammamish State Park and other public recreation lands open amounts to $30 per year for many users, under a measure Gov. Chris Gregoire signed May 12.

Flanked by recreation enthusiasts, Gregoire signed legislation to create a $30 annual pass and a $10 day-use pass for state-managed forests, parks and other natural areas.

The measure, called the Discover Pass, goes into effect July 1 for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and state Department of Natural Resources.

In addition to Lake Sammamish State Park, local recreation sites include Squak Mountain State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest.

“It is essential that we keep our recreation areas open to the public,” Gregoire said in a statement. “I applaud the Legislature for coming together with a solution that allows us to help keep our state recreation lands open and accessible during the worst budget crisis in the state’s history.”

The pass goes on sale in mid-June. Users must display the annual or day-use Discover Pass in vehicles’ front windshields or face a $99 fine.

Lawmakers created the Discover Pass to close gaps in funding for state parks and recreation lands after Gregoire called for reduced support from taxpayer dollars amid a $5.1 billion budget shortfall.

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Take a volunteer vacation for ‘a cheap week in the woods’

May 17, 2011

As more people plan their vacations closer to home, the Washington Trails Association has been flooded with requests to participate in its Volunteer Vacations program, a series of weeklong service trips where people of all ages and abilities work together to repair hiking trails across the state.

Volunteers clear windfall from the Chelan Lakeshore Trail using crosscut saws as part of the Volunteer Vacations program. By William Jahncke

“It’s a cheap week in the woods,” said Lisa Black, a chief leader of the Volunteer Vacations program.

For slightly more than $200, the eight-day, outdoor vacation is a steal, balancing trail work with campsite camaraderie and sweat with well-cooked meals.

The volunteers themselves, fewer than 12 per trip in accordance with wilderness regulations, rotate cooking meals and help along the trail in accordance with their individual capabilities. Tasks range from cutting back overgrown bushes to rebuilding washed-out bridges, and all work is done by hand; no power tools are allowed on the trips into the 4 million acres of nationally protected Washington wilderness.

“It’s daunting for people. They’re often afraid to come out,” Black said.

But she insisted there is always work for every ability. While the average age of volunteers is about 40, men and women in their 70s and 80s come out every year to give back to the trails they love.

“The real draw of the weeklong program is to see actual results from your work,” Black said.

Service projects like rerouting a washed-out trail or cutting steps are an accomplishment to feel proud of.

“It’s the getting tired part, the sweat and the dirt that make sitting down for a dinner with everyone so worth it,” Black said.

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Governor approves $30 user fee for state parks, lands

May 12, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. May 12, 2011

Flanked by recreation enthusiasts, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation Thursday to create a $30 vehicle pass for Lake Sammamish State Park and other state recreation lands.

The measure, called the Discover Pass, goes into effect July 1 for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and state Department of Natural Resources. The pass goes on sale in mid-June.

“It is essential that we keep our recreation areas open to the public,” Gregoire said in a statement. “I applaud the Legislature for coming together with a solution that allows us to help keep our state recreation lands open and accessible during the worst budget crisis in the state’s history.”

Users can pay $30 per year per vehicle or purchase a $10 day-use pass. State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, campgrounds, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads. In addition to the Lake Sammamish park, local sites include Squak Mountain State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest.

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Legislators approve $30 fee for state recreation lands, open spaces

April 26, 2011

Outdoors enthusiasts could start paying $30 to park at state trailheads and use state parks starting in July.

In a party-line vote April 21, the state House of Representatives passed legislation to create a Discover Pass for state parks and open spaces, including Lake Sammamish State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest near Issaquah. The state Senate passed the measure in a bipartisan vote the previous day.

The legislation now heads to the governor. Gov. Chris Gregoire also proposed a user fee for state parks in a proposed budget released in December.

Once the legislation reaches the governor’s desk, she has 20 days to sign the measure into law.

Users could use the annual Discover Pass to park at trailheads and other state-managed lands. For users uninterested in the annual parking pass, the legislation proposes a $10 day-use fee for using the lands. Otherwise, violators could face a ticket.

The proposal attracted broad support from outdoor recreation groups, including the Washington Trails Association.

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Legislators approve $30 fee for state recreation lands

April 21, 2011

NEW — 6:45 p.m. April 21, 2011

Outdoors enthusiasts could start paying $30 to park at state trailheads and use state parks starting in July.

In a party-line vote Thursday, the state House of Representatives passed legislation to create a Discover Pass for state parks and open spaces, including Lake Sammamish State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest near Issaquah.

The state Senate passed the measure in a bipartisan vote Wednesday.

The legislation now heads to the governor. Gov. Chris Gregoire also proposed a user fee for state parks in a proposed budget released in December.

Users could use the annual Discover Pass to park at trailheads and other state-managed lands. For users uninterested in the annual parking pass, the legislation proposes a $10 day-use fee for using the lands. Otherwise, violators could face a ticket.

The proposal attracted broad support from outdoor recreation groups, including the Washington Trails Association.

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Legislators consider $30 fee for public lands, state parks

April 5, 2011

Proposed Discover Pass could stave off closures

Hikers, mountain bikers and other outdoors enthusiasts using Issaquah as a starting point for treks could face a $30 fee to use public lands and state parks come July.

Lawmakers proposed the statewide fee in order to inject funds into the cash-strapped agencies managing public forests, open spaces and recreation facilities. The legislation aims to create a yearlong pass, called the Discover Pass, to park at trailheads and other state-managed lands. For users uninterested in the annual parking pass, the legislation proposes a $10 day-use fee for using the lands. Otherwise, violators could face a ticket.

By Dona Mokin

Though the Discover Pass proposal attracted broad support from outdoor recreation groups, Issaquah legislators remain concerned about the state imposing fees amid a tough economy.

If the Legislature decides against a recreation fee, agencies could close state lands to public access in order to cut costs. Squak Mountain State Park near Issaquah faces closure from July through 2013 as legislators scramble to patch a $5.1 billion hole in the 2011-13 budget.

David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a former Issaquah councilman, said the Discover Pass could offer a short-term solution.

“I think some of the fees that they’re talking about are reasonable, at least for a while, until things improve,” he said. “I really don’t think that we want to get into that situation long term.”

Supporters said the per-vehicle pass could be easier to enforce, because officers can check parking areas for vehicle windshields displaying a Discover Pass, rather than tracking down users on trails.

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