Saturday, September 18, 2021
Sept. 18, 2021

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Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Volunteers play key role in new trail at Beacon Rock park

By , Columbian Features News Coordinator
Published:

After 10 years of planning and two years of physical work, a new connector trail between Beacon Rock to the Columbia River is now complete. River to Rock Trail connects the Doetsch Ranch day-use area and boat moorage to the trail that climbs up to the top of Beacon Rock.

“People in the past would come park their boat or their car in the day-use area, then walk along Highway 14, and its really narrow shoulder,” said Ryan Ojerio, the Southwest regional manager for the Washington Trails Association. “Now you can extend your hike from the rock and see different parts of the park.” The three-quarter-mile trail links up with the existing path around Ridell Lake.

The grand opening of the River to Rock Trail will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, featuring a hike on the new trail, refreshments and a ribbon cutting at Beacon Rock State Park’s Doetsch Ranch Picnic Area, 34841 state Highway 14, Skamania. To RSVP, visit www.wta.org/events.

“(Washington Trails Association) are great partners to work with, they’re definitely a huge asset statewide,” said Heath Yeats, the Beacon Rock State Park manager. The park staff helped ensure that the planning, permits and processes for the new trail were secured. “(The trail) will enhance what the folks already enjoyed about the park,” said Yeats.

“The main goal is to reduce the long-term maintenance cost, reduce the effect it will have on the environment and maintain trail standards to get a good trail,” said Ojerio.

That required analyzing the area’s grade, drainage, soil type and how water flows across the trail, along with designing a trail that hikers will use and not make their own shortcuts. It also meant mitigating environmental impacts of a new trail. That resulted in decommissioning a part of the trail that once looped around Ridell Lake as a trade-off.

To decommission a trail, volunteers must de-compact the soil trampled under hikers’ boots and transplant native vegetation, said Ojerio, “to help give native plants a head start before the invasive species like Himalayan blackberries and English ivy.”

“The signs of a great trail is that it’s sustainable, low-maintenance and enjoyable to hike, and by enjoyable, I mean you feel like no one built anything there, that you’re experiencing nature as it’s always been,” said Ojerio.

Washington Trails Association already is onto its next projects, as volunteers work year-round, said Ojerio. “Every time’s a good time to get out, rain or shine.”

Volunteers will be building an ADA-accessible trail at Vancouver Lake, and maintaining trails at Cape Horn in the Columbia River Gorge and at Battle Ground Lake State Park.

To learn more about the association and how to volunteer, visit www.wta.org.


Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.

Columbian Features News Coordinator
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