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To whack that trail into shape

September 21, 2010

(UPPER SKY VALLEY) -- Who wouldn’t want to work on a trail with a majestic name like the Iron Goat Trail?

The name itself verily breathes and heaves with the essence of the great outdoors and to boot it is right here in the Sky Valley.

Grab your shovel and few sticks of dynamite (kidding about the dynamite) because Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Skykomish Ranger District are looking for volunteers who aren’t afraid to tote that barge and lift that bail to work on the historic Iron Goat Trail (built on the abandoned Great Northern Railway grade which is up valley a piece).

The day of shovel-to-earth on the Iron Goat is September 25, which happens to be National Public Lands Day, which makes it even more noteworthy.

What you’ll do? We thought you’d never ask.

You’ll cut back brush and improve wheelchair accessible tread along the mighty trail plus you’ll also give the odd haircut to a few wild goats assuming you can catch them.
Okay, we’re kidding about the goats. They’ll only let you shave them if you offer them beer.

HOW TO SIGN ON: Sign up on the Volunteers of Washington website and select the National Public Lands Day work party at: http://www.trailvolunteers.org/calendar.asp
Call Tom Davis for more information at (360) 677-2414 or email tdavis@fs.fed.us.

WHERE TO MEET: Volunteers meet at the Martin Creek Trailhead at 9 a.m.

HOW YOU GET THERE: Take U.S. Highway 2 to milepost 55 which is 6 miles east of the town of Skykomish OR to milepost 58.3 at Scenic (which is 5.6 miles west of the summit).

Then what you do is turn north on to the Old Cascade Highway which is also called U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Road #67.

Then you roll on down to the junction with USFS Road #6710 (2.3 miles from milepost 55 OR 1.4 miles from milepost 58.3).

Then turn onto USFS Road #6710 and proceed 1.4 miles to the Martin Creek trailhead parking lot.

Confused? So are we. We say take a cab and hand the driver these instructions.

Volunteers will receive a “fee-free” day use or entrance fee pass for use at federal land management agencies (and that is a hump load of land we’re taking about) PLUS there will be a free barbecue for volunteers at 3 p.m. Wild goat is on the menu. (Okay, kidding about that. But it could have been on the menu).

The Iron Goat Trail has hosted this National Public Lands Day event for over ten years and in part the day commemorates the legacy of Ruth Ittner, who is viewed as the “godmother” of the Iron Goat Trail.

She passed away in June.

Through her tireless efforts in cajoling some 125,000 hours out of volunteer labor, raising money and coordinating the interpretive and educational projects, Volunteers of Washington has built more than 10 miles of the Iron Goat Trail.

The Martin Creek phase of the trail was dedicated in1993, then Wellington in 2000, and the Scenic Interpretive site in 2006.

Work is ongoing on the next phase of the trail to the Horseshoe Tunnel area.

THE BACK STORY (For you history buffs)

The now-abandoned Great Northern Railway grade was built in the early 1890s. Today’s Iron Goat Trail follows the section abandoned in 1929 when the “new” Cascade Tunnel was opened with its western portal at Scenic, Washington.

In 1976, the area was designated by the National Register of Historic Places as the Stevens Pass Historic District.

In 1983, the American Association of Civil Engineers designated the area as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Since 1929 the land has recovered and features a wide variety of habitats and is a popular wildflower hike.

Every once in a while the scribes from the mighty SkyValleyChronicle.com go up there to stumble around and enjoy the many tunnels, the snow shed remnants, and the living breathing history of the Great Northern Railway here the foothills of the grand Cascades mountains.

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Story tags: Iron Goat Trail, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District



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