Another trail blazed

Trails Council cuts through the brush

Grateful that rain that was predicted to come on Saturday didn’t, about a dozen people spent the morning busy on the trails in Fort Ebey State Park.

Instead of hiking the trails, volunteers gathered their tools and put one in.

The installation is just one of the duties of Island County Trails Council. The council also helps maintain the miles of trail scattered throughout the county.

The one mile path was being installed by volunteer Doug Shepard, who was leading the way in a trail excavator — which looks like a small backhoe with a plow — by bulldozing his way through the brush and around fallen trees. Other volunteers from the Trails Council and a Boy Scout Troop from Woodinville followed behind Shepard and smoothed the new trail.

The Boy Scouts happened to be on the island on a camping trip when the scoutmaster learned of the trail building.

“It sounded like a good thing and the weather cooperated,” said Brent Graham, scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 627.

The excavator that helped claw in a new path was borrowed from the Pacific Northwest Trails Association.

Shepard said the machine provided a big boost to the work, saving hours on a project that would have taken most of the day to complete.

Now that hikers are meandering their way through the new trail, the council is looking for an appropriate name for the trail.

The new mile-long trail is the final one to be put in at Fort Ebey State Park and the council will install trails on other parts of the island.

Island County Trails Council uses volunteers to not only install new trails but also maintain and clean current ones.

“I’m just paying these guys back for all the work they’ve done,” said Coupeville resident Gordon Spears who helped smooth the trail Shepard blazed. He spends much of his free time on his mountain bike riding up and down the local trails.

Hikers can see the Trails Council’s work by venturing down Cedar Hollow Trail at Fort Ebey State Park.

The Trails Council has seen declining membership in recent years and efforts are being made to bolster the ranks.

“Anybody who walks, rides or bikes are more than welcome to contact us,” said Trails Council volunteer Mike Riley.

He added that the greatest need is help in maintaining trails. Volunteers basically walk Island County trails and remove any debris that obstructs the path.

Volunteer Hugh Cargill said that it has been difficult to get people take care of the day-to-day maintenance of the trails.

To help increase its numbers, the council recently elected new officers.

“We needed some new blood,” Shepard said.

To help spread the word about the Trails Council, a public relations committee has been formed and a newsletter is expected to be published.

For more information about Island County Trails Council call Mike Riley at 678-5408.