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Visit WTA-Built Bridges (And Other Structures)

Hike one of these trails where WTA crews have built structures that help improve the hiking experience. It's remarkable to see what can be made from natural materials near the trail, with a little teamwork and elbow grease.

Structures on trail are eye-catching, if you know what to look for. Bridges make good subjects of misty-morning photographs, and are good for entertaining kids with a game of pooh-sticks. They allow hikers to cross sometimes otherwise uncrossable creeks and streams. Other structures, like turnpikes and puncheons also let hikers cross water and keep hikers from impacting the natural habitat.

Rock walls and switchbacks also lend their support to hiking feet. No matter the structure, WTA volunteers have been building at a professional level for years. The next time you come across an on-trail structure, notice what kind of material it's made of and think about how all of these materials were transported into this remote place and what equipment must have been needed. Appreciate the art involved in fashioning these long-lasting creations out of the materials found in the forest. 

If you need some inspiration for where to find these structures, start with this list. The locations listed below feature bridges or other structures created by WTA volunteer teams, and are accessible most of the year. There are hundreds more to be found though. Find a trail near you that's been recently worked on by WTA volunteers by searching our trip reports, using the "WTA work party" filter


    Southwest Washington

    Cape Horn

    Location: Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
    Mileage: 7.2 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 1300 feet


    Volunteers lay decking on the Cape Horn bridge. Photo by Ryan Ojerio.

    Passing a thundering waterfall and some spectacular lookouts to the Columbia River Gorge, this loop hike is a southwest Washington classic. You'll find the massive 30-foot bridge that WTA built about four miles from the trail head. One of the stringers (the long log supporting the length of the bridge) that spans the banks was a Douglas fir felled in Beacon Rock State Park; the other two are remnants of a highway construction project. As you cross it, inspect how all of the parts fit together on this sturdy bridge.

    >> Plan your trip to Cape Horn

    Beacon Rock state Park - Hamilton Mountain

    Location: Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
    Mileage: 7.5 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 2000 feet

    Beacon Rock State Park-Hamilton Mountain-6.1.2017-Ryan Ojerio.jpg
    Though originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Beacon Rock State Park – Hamilton Mountain trail has received much care and maintenance, as well as a new staircase, from WTA. Photo by Ryan Ojerio.

    This little bridge is small but mighty, and you don't have to walk far to see it. Found within the first mile of the hike to Hamilton Mountain summit, this little footbridge is just one of many found on this trail. The Hamilton Mountain trail is a very popular route in the springtime, and this little bridge allows hikers the chance to quickly enter the forest and enjoy waterfalls, views, and the vibrant green in the Columbia River Gorge.  

    >> Plan your trip to Beacon Rock State Park - Hamilton Mountain

    Cape Disappointment state Park - North Head Trail

    Location: Southwest Washington -- Long Beach Area
    Mileage: 1.8 miles, one-way
    Elevation Gain: 420 feet

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    The Cape Disappointment State Park – North Head Trails is one of the many trails at Cape Disappointment that WTA has been working on over the years. Photo by Bob Adler.

    WTA has worked at this location for more than 10 years. Over that time, we've done an impressive amount of maintenance here, including building turnpikes and general maintenance. The North Head trail is a whimsical staircase and boarwalk connecting the North Head lighthouse to the campground below it. Travel between head-high salal and enormous coastal trees and enjoying this well-built trail. 

    >> Plan your trip to Cape Disappointment State Park - North Head Trail


    Olympic Peninsula

    Lower Big Quilcene

    Location: Olympic Peninsula -- Hood Canal
    Mileage: 12.9 miles, roundtrip 
    Elevation Gain: 1890 feet

    The WTA volunteer made bridge over the Lower Big Quilcene. Photo by Bob and Barb.

    Raging rivers and towering old-growth make for the perfect bridge hike, and the Lower Big Quilcene has it all. You'll hike six miles and cross several bridges before you come to the Wet Weather Bridge, built by WTA and the Back Country Horsemen of Washington. Volunteers assembled this 30-foot bridge from a bridge kit. Check trip reports before you go or consider snowshoeing this hike; snow loads vary at this time of year.

    >> Plan your trip to Lower Big Quilcene River

    Royal Basin-Royal Lake

    Location: Olympic Peninsula -- Northern Coast
    Mileage: 16.0 miles, roundtrip 
    Elevation Gain: 2650 feet

    royal-basin_charlie.jpg

    This one's a long hike, but the bridge over Royal Creek comes in the first couple of miles. It's a remarkably long bridge that was built to replace the old one, which cracked when the tree we used to build the new bridge fell on it. Royal Basin is a very popular destination, and this sturdy bridge will support hundreds of hiking feet as they come through on their way to this high lake. 

    >> Plan your trip to Royal Basin


    Puget Sound and Islands

    MeadowDale Beach Park

    Location: Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
    Mileage: 2.5 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 425 feet

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    Walk up and down steps created and maintained by WTA at Meadowdale Beach Park – Lunds Gulch. Photo by Britt Lê.

    A multi-year project for WTA, the staircase at Meadowdale Beach Park was built by WTA volunteers who got experience using power tools on this project. The stairs resolved a bad erosion problem caused by a blocked drainage, and now will let many more generations of hikers visit the area without slipping and sliding their way down the hillside. 

    >> Plan your trip to Meadowdale Beach Park - Lunds Gulch

    Chambers Creek Canyon

    Location: Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
    Mileage: 2.5 miles of trails
    Elevation Gain: 
    500 feet

    7.21.17 Chambers Creek Britt Le (11).JPG
    WTA has worked hard on realigning the trail on the Lakewood side of the Chambers Creek Canyon. Photo by Britt Lê.

    Not quite a bridge but not quite regular trail, Chambers Creek is home to a WTA-built turnpike. These raised sections of trail help hikers navigate through wet areas without damaging the landscape and animal habitat. The trail system is still in development here but it's definitely an area worth visiting. 

    >> Plan your trip to Chambers Creek Canyon

    Beaver Lake Preserve

    Location: Issaquah Alps
    Mileage: 1.2 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 
    50 feet

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    A WTA work party takes a lunch break on the bridge built by a previous WTA work party at Beaver Lake Preserve. Photo by Steven Moore.

    Hundreds of volunteers helped make the trails at Beaver Lake a reality. Go visit the puncheon (a type of bridge) pictured above, and lose yourself in the deep forest found surprisingly close to the bustling city of Sammamish. 

    >> Plan your trip to the Beaver Lake Preserve

    Grand Ridge Park

    Location: Issaquah Alps
    Mileage: 7.0 miles of trails
    Elevation Gain:
    1100 feet


    The WTA Bridge at Grand Ridge. Photo by Susan Elderkin.

    Located in Issaquah's backyard, this trail winds through hemlock and cedar, giving it a surprisingly backcountry feel.The "WTA Bridge" lies towards the middle of this 7-mile trail. WTA volunteers built this 40-foot bridge out of local cedar trees that had fallen nearby and were milled on site. See if you can match the grain of the bridge's stringers with the cedars still standing nearby!

    >> Plan your trip to Grand Ridge Park


    Snoqualmie Region

    Talapus and Olallie Lakes

    Location: Snoqualmie Region -- Snoqualmie Pass
    Mileage: 6.2 miles, roundtrip 
    Elevation Gain: 1220 feet

    Talapus Lake-9.16.2018-John Swigert (2).png
    See a turnpike at Talapus and Olallie Lakes that was made by WTA to help keep your feet a little less muddy. Photo by John Swigert.

    The trail to Talapus Lake is one of the most popular ones for beginning hikers and backpackers. For years, it was rooty and rocky, hard for little (and not-so-little) feet to navigate. After several Backcountry Response Teams (BCRTs) and day work parties working to improve it, it's a delightful little trek. Take particular notice of the bridge on your way to the lake, pictured behind the volunteers above. 

    >> Plan your trip to Talapus and Olallie Lakes


    Mount Rainier Area

    Fremont Lookout

    Location: Mount Rainier Area -- NE - Sunrise/White River
    Mileage: 5.6 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 800 feet

    Sunrise-9.22.2017-Sam Ortiz.jpg
    In the summer of 2017, WTA built a series of steps along the steep section of the Fremont Lookout trail to help prevent erosion. Photo by Sam Ortiz.

    In 2017, the Fremont Lookout trail received a big lift from WTA work parties. Volunteers sweated it out all summer, working on an exposed section of trail, resetting rocks and making the trail safer and more sustainable for the many visitors who make it out to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. 

    >> Plan your trip to Fremont Lookout


    Northwest

    Larrabee State Park

    Location: Puget Sound and Islands -- Bellingham Area
    Mileage: 2.4 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 
    1200 feet

    Larrabee State Park-Rock Trail-5.12.17-Mike Bellis.JPG
    The Larrabee State Park – Rock Trail was built from scratch by WTA thank to partnerships with various organizations, including Larrabee State Park and Chuckanut Conservancy. Photo by Mike Bellis.

    The staircase on the Rock Trail is quite the achievement. Hike this steep trail and admire not only the many separate stairsteps, but also the small footbridge, originally dubbed 'Bogaards Bridge' after the crew leader who led a majority of the work parties here. It's a workout all on it's own, but you can use the Rock Trail to create loops or traverses on the state parks' extensive trail system. 

    >> Plan your trip to Larrabee State Park - Rock Trail


    Eastern Washington

    Liberty Lake

    Location: Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
    Mileage: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 1200 feet


    Volunteers finishing up a bridge across a section of the Liberty Lake trail. Photo by Jane Baker.

    As well as boasting the quirkiest bridge around, this loop hike also features rare old growth, a waterfall and the occasional peak-a-boo view. WTA volunteers have rerouted the trail around a growing beaver dam and built a bridge in the process. The weirdest thing about this single-stringer bridge? The log that it's made from is crooked!

    >> Plan your trip to Liberty Lake

    Mount Spokane - Burping Brook-Smith Gap Loop

    Location: Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
    Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 500 feet

    Mt Spokane June 2013 026-Jane Baker.jpg
    The Mount Spokane - Burping Brook-Smith Gap Loop includes a bridge built by WTA that makes crossing the Burping Brook, for which the trail is named, possible. Photo by Jane Baker.

    Another longer trail where the bridge is encountered fairly early in the hike, this loop features not one but two WTA-built bridges! Hikers reap the benefits of these bridges year-round, since Mount Spokane is a favorite place for hikers in the area summer and winter. 

    >> Plan your trip to Mount Spokane - Burping Brook-Smith Gap Loop

    Alta Lake State Park

    Location: North Cascades -- Methow/Sawtooth
    Mileage: 2.0 miles, roundtrip

    Crew moving large boulder.jpg
    The Overlook Trail at Alta Lake State Park was repaired after a wildfire by WTA volunteers on a Youth Volunteer Vacation. Photo by Isabel Shinnick-Gordon.

    In 2016, a youth volunteer vacation repaired the trails in Alta Lake State Park, which were slumping and badly in need of fixing. They built rock retaining walls and moved some very large rocks in the process. Go visit now, before it gets too hot over there, there isn't much shade in the area!

    >> Plan your trip to Alta Lake State Park