New life for the trails in Point Defiance Park

A large group of volunteers spent the morning of June 4 doing their part to improve trails in Point Defiance Park during the fifth annual local observance of National Trails Day. At the national level, the event marked its 19th year in 2011. More than 2,000 events took place around the United States.

About 150 people showed up at Point Defiance to volunteer. Some arrived early for a guided walk through the park. At 9 a.m. they were provided with tools and equipment, split into groups and went to work.

Some went to the rhododendron garden, where they installed water bars. Richard Madison, community outreach coordinator with Metro Parks, described these as “nature’s speed bumps.” They help divert water off of trails.

On the square trail along Five Mile Drive, volunteers fixed up muddy spots and conducted other trail improvements. Elsewhere, people pruned vegetation, removed brush piles and downed tree limbs and picked up garbage.

The 702-acre park is a popular destination, attracting about 2 million visitors a year. Many walk along the trails that wind through old-growth forest of Douglas firs, maples, alder and madronas.

“Our trails get a lot of use,” Madison remarked. All of that use takes a toll. Plus they take a heaving beating in the winter, he noted, when heavy rains cause damage to the pathways. Trail Day comes just as the weather is getting nice and staff at the park are preparing it for the heavy use it gets in the summer.

Volunteers came from the Mountaineers, Cub Scout troops and churches. Madison noted REI is “a great partner” for the activity.

His son, Beau Madison, was one of the volunteers. He said he lives nearby and members of his family enjoy visiting Point Defiance. Participating in the event is a good way for him to give something back, he said.

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