Monday, February 27th, 2017
Get Dirty and Give Back at Bellingham Trail Work Parties
Todd Elsworth

We are blessed with a bounty of trails in our “little” burg of Bellingham, WA. We have all kinds of trails to choose from within the city “limits”. The city and volunteer organizations host a variety of work parties throughout the year. In this post, you’ll find work party information for WMBC, City of Bellingham and Recreation Northwest. While not the complete list, it’s a sampling. I hope you can find something that fits your interest and schedules. Get to know the local trails intimately and have an investment in fun!

The most notorious trails around town are the mountain bike trails that wind through our proverbial backyard on Galbraith Mountain, maintained by Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC – formerly WhIMPs)  This is the signature local trail work group, led by the “Mayor of Mountain Biking in Bellingham”- Mr. Eric “EB” Brown, Trail Director- pictured in safety orange below. Stayed Tuned IN with EB’s video Trail Updates on Facebook.

Above, EB talks to a group of stewards at a trail builders workshop. Mark, in the yellow hoodie was our lead instructor from Trail Holistics in British Columbia, for the informative Trail Builders Workshop 1. After a morning classroom session, EB and Mark led us through ropes for our hands on experience outside.

WMBC is able to fund the maintenance of the extensive network of trails through it’s popular Trail Adoption Program (TAP) Trail program. I recently learned the inside scoop – the idea was created by aforementioned Mark “Woodsy” Wood up in BC, WMBC mimicked the gig. Which is what we all essentially do!

Above, Mark is assessing a feature at the entrance of a popular trail. See if you can identify it! He is talking about how moisture is getting into the wood structures and what to look for. Trail builders at this level are masters of their craft and I was impressed with the breadth and depth of knowledge that goes into planning, building and maintaining our trails.

Throughout the day, we enjoyed vocabulary like, “Wavy Gravy & Rolly Polley” and other terms unique to the mountain bike community. Quite entertaining! I highly recommend being a part of it all, which means getting out for trail day when you can. It’s an opportunity to turn a frowny face into a smiling one. Turn that frown upside down! Without care, trails end up being just muddy puddles…

Yes, it’s work. But as you can imagine, it’s also about the people! WMBC Trail work parties are fun, family-friendly experiences. Well worth your time.

Upcoming WMBC TAP Trail Work Parties

Check out the complete WMBC Calendar of Events and Trail Days

3/4 Fanatik Bike – 9am-3pm
3/18 Fanatik Bike – Spring Factory Demo Day (not a work party, but fun) 9am-5pm
3/18 Irish Death – Iron Horse Brewery
4/1 Chainsaw Certification

Thank you Eric Ashley Photography for the following photos, these are worth more than words! These 5 photos are from a WMBC Work Party that shows the characters who come out to help.

Thank you ALL volunteers!

Lifting up the next Generation

Mentorship

Working with a Smile

Rewards!

Bellingham is fortunate to also have an extensive network of Greenways Trails System and local Public Parks. Whatcom County, as a whole, for that matter is a ‘nuther story- for another time. Our bounty is the sum total of all the natural open public space that consistently lands us on popular lists like Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Live in the USA!

Upcoming work Greenways Parties

The City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department also leads work parties all around town to maintain trails and parks. Neighborhood groups and organizations often align with these city-led events. If you’re a visitor from out-of-town and looking to move here (highly recommended) these are a great way to check out potential neighbors 😉

View the City of Bellingham Greenways Volunteer Work Parties

Park Operations Nursery 3/4, 3/11, 3/18, 2017
Gossage Garden 3/25/2017

Fairhaven Park Trail Work Parties

Smaller organizations, like Recreation Northwest, also work directly with the city as partner stewardship organizations. Full disclosure and shameless self-promotion: I am co-Executive Director of this organization and this is our Fairhaven Park Trail project in partnership with the COB Parks and Recreation Department.

Modelling the successes of both Mark and EB with their trail sponsor programs, ours also leverages local businesses for support and their “sweat equity” too.

Brio Laundry lead the charge for Recreation Northwest’s Fairhaven Park Trail project last year. This year they’ll be back, hosting a work party performing mitigation work on March 11. In similar fashion, their business support helps to get their employees out for a day of stewardship, while engaging the community that we all serve.

Like the WMBC, we also like to have fun while we work!

Our support also comes from traditional service groups like the Fairhaven Lions Club. As a major sponsor of the project, The Fairhaven Lions see this as a legacy project and have donated time, money and loaned their smiles and good sense of humor to make this long-term project a success. Below are Joel Haggen and Loren Adkins, long-time Lions out for a work party.

Trail work parties are about trails, but also about community. We encourage youth to participate in all local stewardship programs. Below is a group of Boy Scouts out for a day of learning and working for a merit badge. Also pictured at right, is Chris Mellick in the RRAD-Run, Ride and DIG t-shirt. Chris has been a trail builder for decades and is ingrained in the local bike scene! It’s a special treat for people that get to work with Chris out on the trails.

It’s all about the people. What makes Bellingham a true Trail Town is the public groups working with local landowners to build trails and parks for the community to play in and around. Whether you’re from out of town or have been a “Hamster” since birth, trail work parties are a great way to get out, give back and create connections (and find the hidden gems).

Be part of the Bellingham Experience and get out and help on the trails.

Start your adventure at BasecampBellingham.org #BasecampBelllingham

Thank you Eric Ashley Photography for sharing your photos of WMBC trail work parties.

Bellingham Trail Work Parties:

City of Bellingham Greenways Volunteer Work Parties

WMBC Calendar of Events & TAP Trail work parties

Recreation Northwest – Fairhaven Park Trail work parties

 

 

 

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About the Author:

As the Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse and co-founder of Kulshan Quest Adventure Race, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.