Monthlong Hike-a-Thon to launch at High Point Trailhead

July 28, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. July 28, 2011

Hikers plan to rise and shine not long after dawn Monday — and then hike all month long — to help the Washington Trails Association preserve and maintain trails across the Evergreen State.

The nonprofit organization’s annual Hike-a-Thon is scheduled to launch at 6 a.m. Monday at the High Point Trailhead near Issaquah. Hikers can register at the organization’s website or call 206-625-1367. Registration is $15 and includes a T-shirt.

“This 6 a.m. guided hike is our way of helping these awesome folks get their Hike-a-Thon campaigns started with a bang,” Lace Thornberg, hike leader and Washington Trails magazine editor, said in a news release. “Before 9 a.m., when they head off to work on Monday, these hikers will already have five miles under their boots for their Hike-a-Thon campaigns. That’s pretty cool.”

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The path less traveled leads to the top of beautiful Cedar Butte

July 26, 2011

A sign directs hikers to hang a right and up the hill from the Saddle Junction along the Cedar Butte Trail. Photos by Christopher Huber

If it weren’t for a few persistent hikers or devoted volunteer stewards, the Cedar Butte trail might not get any traffic.

Considered an unofficial trail by the Washington Trails Association, the relatively well-worn path gets just enough use and has just enough signage to provide hikers a clear way to the top. But it’s not nearly as popular as hikes across the Snoqualmie Valley, like Little Si, Rattlesnake Ledge and others, so someone walking the trail in the middle of a weekday might have the place all to themselves.

One seeking to traverse the Cedar River watershed via the Cedar Butte Trail will have to first walk about a mile up the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, a well-kept, recently re-opened walking and biking trail that connects Olallie and Iron Horse state parks with the recently re-opened Snoqualmie Train Tunnel 21 miles east at Hyak.

This trail is family-friendly and makes for a quiet half-day family outing for anyone visiting Rattlesnake Lake.

The Cedar Butte Trail itself stems from the larger, gravel John Wayne trail. From the parking lot, walk past the bathrooms, hang a right, following signage to the John Wayne trail. Hang a left up the gravel access path and at the main trail, take another left, at the Iron Horse State Park sign that lists mileage to other destinations.

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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.

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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.

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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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