The Lick Creek Trail is one of my favorite trails within a short drive from Walla Walla.
Starting at the Zig Zag Springs Trailhead and connecting with the Grouse Mountain Trail, it offers wonderful ridge line views of the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness with a journey through a canyon of old growth ponderosa pine and fir trees.
For the last three years, the Blues Crew has returned to this trail to provide incremental improvements.
However, there was one section of the trail that was just not an easy fix, and for Eileen Settle it became a passion to find a solution.
An early member of the Blues Crew, she had taken a trail design course from the Washington Trail Association and knew a new path could be built.
Her enthusiasm and my persistence helped push the approval through the USFS Umatilla processes.
A team of 12 volunteers lead by Eileen took a full day to build a 150-foot path. She laid out the slope and guided the construction.
An ideal hiking trail is approximately 24 inches wide with brush clearance corridor of 6 feet. Removal of heavy brush, small trees and ground debris was the first step. Compound loppers and marvelous folding saws facilitated vegetation removal.
Cut brush was used to block the old trail section.
Creation of the trail tread took the majority of the day as the ground was hard with embedded rock. Multiple tools were required to break through — Pulaskis, picks and a steel digging bar.
A lot of grunting and groaning could be heard as the tools collided with rock.
As the trail took shape, Eileen was there to guide the finished product.
At the end of the day, the trail was transformed from a 30% slope to 10%.
No more gravel ball bearings under foot.
With the trail complete, a celebration with Prosecco and brownies was in order.
Wonderful friendships had been cemented while creating a safer trail.
The Blues Crew master sign maker Ted Bergstrom then presented Eileen with the sign for the section EILEEN’S BYPASS.
Cheers all around.
Volunteers bring their passion for trail work to the Blues Crew. This year, 65 individuals contributed 1,774 hours of their time to improve trails in our region.
With the smoke gone, this is an ideal trail for fall hiking.
Details about the Lick Creek Trail can be found at https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7056675/lick-creek-trail-3070.
The Blue Mountain Land Trust Blues Crew is a volunteer organization committed to local trails. No experience is required to participate.
Each work party is led by experienced team leaders who provide guidance as to the work to be performed.
Tools and personal protective gear are provided.
Upcoming events are posted at https://bmlt.org/find-a-work-party.