Trails link people and wild places. They allow us to connect with nature—and each other. But every year, budget declines and increasingly extreme winters and fire seasons have made it harder to keep our backcountry trails open and accessible. Without the maintenance they need, Washington’s trails are slowly becoming lost.
Washington Trails Assocation's Lost Trails Found campaign is working to save trails that are at-risk of disappearing completely — preserving access to our stunning backcountry for generations to come. Through support from National Forest Foundation’s Matching Awards Program, we are putting trails back on the map.
As part of our Lost Trails Found campaign, WTA has spent a lot of time working in the Pasayten Wilderness. Places like the Pasayten are an integral part of a healthy trail system — they provide endless opportunities for hikers who seek the wild experiences of backcountry loops, traverses and thru-hikes, as well as space for day hikes, car camps and more.
Over the past decade, downed trees, erosion and deteriorating tread have been preventing hikers and stock from easily accessing the backcountry experiences that make the Pasayten so beloved.
In 2018, a grant from NFF supported WTA’s work restoring and maintaining trails in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, including in the Pasayten Wilderness. Through boots-on-the-ground volunteer trail maintenance efforts and strategic community partnerships, WTA increased access and safety for trail users and improved natural resource protection in the region, ensuring that this National Forest is protected for generations to come.
In total, 272 volunteers completed 13,749 hours of trail work, improving 32 different trails and maintaining a cumulative total of 151 miles of trails in the Forest.
There is a lot of work to be done in the Pasayten Wilderness, and thankfully, we're not alone in our vision for this area. WTA teamed up with several land managers and recreation groups including Back Country Horsemen of Washington, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, and the Pacific Northwest Trail Association to form a Pasayten partnership. This partnership helped us to coordinate our maintenance efforts, combine our resources, and tackle projects more efficiently, ensuring greater overall impact on trails.
Thanks to volunteers, strong partnerships and funding from NFF, “lost” trails like those in the Pasayten are being restored for another generation of hikers to find and enjoy.