Inland Northwest hiking trails are paved - or carved, dug or graded - with good intentions

Holly Weiler with the Washington Trails Association. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Holly Weiler with the Washington Trails Association.

The Inland Northwest has plenty to offer outdoors enthusiasts, including miles and miles of hiking trails. And it's the work of volunteer organizations that keeps these trails maintained and safe for everyone to enjoy.

One such organization that builds and maintains trails in the Inland Northwest is the Spokane Mountaineers. The organization has been around for over 100 years, and its conservation committee oversees trail maintenance and construction.

Spokane Mountaineers typically has between 600 and 800 members, with 80 to 90 people a year working on trail projects, says Lynn Smith, trail work coordinator for the Spokane Mountaineers. To get involved, visit spokanemountaineers.org and go to the conservation committee's page.

"It really goes as needed; you know, whatever's happening locally," Smith says of Spokane Mountaineers' trail work.

WASHINGTON

Spokane Mountaineers: spokanemountaineers.org

Evergreen East: evergreeneast.org

Washington Trails Association: wta.org

Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park: mountspokane.org

Spokane Nordic: spokanenordic.org

IDAHO

Idaho Trails Association: idahotrailsassociation.org

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness: scotchmanpeaks.org

This year, Spokane Mountaineers built a new trail called Inside Passage, which was finished in May. Other current projects include ongoing maintenance at Painted Rocks Trail, Lone Lake and Stevens Lakes Trail.

Another organization in the area that works on trail building and maintenance is Evergreen East, one of eight chapters of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

Not only does Evergreen East build and maintain local trails, but they also work to engage the community through education and recreation advocacy, says Melinda Larson, vice president of Evergreen East, and Chris Conley, president of Evergreen East.

The Evergreen East chapter currently has 631 members, and people looking to get involved can visit www.evergreenmtb.org/support-us/become-a-member to join the alliance. The organization maintains over 100 miles of trails, and is working on a new trail from the Mount Spokane summit to the top of Trail 290.

Evergreen East has also recently built the Zephyr connection trail, the Etter Ranch trails and the Inland Passage trail, and they are planning additional work this fall on the Mackenzie Natural Area and Mica Peak, Larson and Conley say.

The Washington Trails Association also builds and maintains trails and has launched multiple campaigns within the past three years, according to their website. One of these campaigns, called Trails for Everyone, seeks to make Washington state's hiking community more inclusive for everyone.

"Everyone deserves to have opportunities to recreate outdoors and to have safe, welcoming and inclusive experiences on trail," says the WTA's website.

In Idaho, the Idaho Trails Association — modeled after the WTA — takes on trail maintenance projects of various lengths and difficulties. During its 11-year history, the Idaho Trails Association has grown from 10 members to over 500, with 300 volunteers a year working on trails, says Tom Dabrowski, president of the Idaho Trails Association's board of directors.

This year, the Idaho Trails Association has undertaken 46 projects around the state, including new projects where 14- to 18-year-olds can work on trails around Idaho, Dabrowski says. To get involved, go to idahotrailsassociation.org.

"There's always something to do," Dabrowski says. ♦

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