A well-known local hiker and trail maintenance project leader, Lynn Smith, ends his emails to other trail maintenance volunteers with these words: “Days spent on a trail are not deducted from one’s lifetime.” Another Spokane Mountaineers member and volunteer coordinator for Washington Trails Association, Holly Weiler, is famous among many U.S. Forest Service and state park employees, especially from the Colville National Forest and Mt. Spokane State Park, for the countless hours of volunteer trail maintenance time she has coordinated or put in herself. Between these two Spokane Mountaineers Club leaders, dozens of trails are maintained or constructed throughout our region each year. It is sad that many public lands agencies can’t maintain our trails like they used to, but that is the way it is these days.

Volunteers from the Washington Trails Association, REI, Evergreen East Mountain Bike Alliance, our friends in the Panhandle Backcountry Horsemen and other Backcountry Horsemen groups in our area, and the Spokane Mountaineers spend many a spring, summer and fall day taking care of the trails we walk and ride on all year long.

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Salmo Priest volunteer trail crew.

In 2014, these groups worked on the new Glenrose trail system and other trails in the Dishman Hills, Fishtrap Lake trails, Mount Spokane and the Stevens Lakes and Lone Lake trail system to name just a few. These trails were all helped along by organized trail work parties through the organizations listed above. But it’s many of the other trails that people like Weiler, Smith and others like them work on, often by themselves or with those they can persuade to assist, that the work gets done.

Each fall, the Spokane Mountaineers do clean ups at the Upper and Lower Stevens Lakes, Lone Lake and Crystal Lake in the Bitterroot Mountains just east of Coeur d’Alene. The trails, lake shores, and campsites, especially the fire rings, are our focus. Leave No Trace and Pack It In, Pack It Out, has been the rule for decades, and the word seems to be getting out. This year’s clean ups of these areas only produced a few bags of garbage. We were pleasantly surprised that people seem to be taking better care of the areas they hike into. (However, I might add, that aluminum and glass really don’t burn.)

A day in the wilds swinging a pulaski is like a vacation for the soul.

A day in the wilds swinging a pulaski is like a vacation for the soul.

To those people who I have met along the trails with bags of garbage attached to their packs, I thank you. The above recreation and trail advocacy groups would be happy for your assistance this year too if you have some time to spend the day on the trail with a Pulaski or shovel.

Washington Trails Association Summer Trail Work Parties

Visit Washington Trails Association to find a volunteer trail project to put on your calendar this summer. WTA’s volunteer program helps people give back to trails, meet new friends and enjoy the outdoors. See the complete list of work parties online and sign up at www.wta.org.

Written by Chic Burge.