New Trails in Wild Sky?
The newly-minted Wild Sky Wilderness has a trails plan for new hiking trails. It's open for public comment until October 1, 2011.
If you haven't visited the Wild Sky Wilderness yet, you're not alone. While the newly-minted wilderness area boasts craggy, ice-limned peaks, deep forested valleys and burbling streams - features to gladden the heart of any hiker - it lacks trails. Only a few trails thread the Wilderness, and none for many miles. Wilderness isn't just about trails, of course. It's an important source of wildlife habitat and clean water, among many other critical values. Still, it would be good for hikers to be able to venture into Wild Sky without having to travel cross-country, if only to see what they helped protect.
That might become a reality over time with the advent of a new Wild Sky Trails Plan. The link includes all the planning documents published by the Forest Service.
The Wild Sky Wilderness Act required the Forest Service to develop a trail plan for the area. Developing trails there has been a challenge, due largely to the sheer vertical nature of much of the Wild Sky country. But over the years, the Skykomish Ranger District has published planning documents for a number of trail opportunities in the area, and they've compiled them into trails plan that is open for public comment until October 1.
At a June 23 open house designed to solicit public input on hiker and equestrian trail priorities in the Wild Sky, forest managers were clear about the fact that there is little money to develop new trails, but were also guardedly optimistic about potential sources of grant funding. We won't see the entire suite of trails they've outlined for a very long time, if ever. But with some luck and a lot of hard work, the next few seasons could bring new hiking opportunities in the Wild Sky.
We encourage hikers, particularly those who know the territory, to take a few minutes and respond to the Forest Service's request for comment. Here are some things you might include in your comment letter:
- Let the District know that new trails in the Wild Sky are a priority for you and for all hikers, and that they should be a priority of the region
- Stress that all the hikers who helped get the Wild Sky bill passed are excited about visiting our newest wilderness area.
- Two of the best opportunities in the proposal are Ragged Ridge and Lake Isabel. If you're so inclined, mention these in your comment letter.