New Trails to Connect Communities in the Central Cascades

By Darcy Batura, Central Cascades Community Coordinator

In the Upper Kittitas portion of the Central Cascades forest, a broad partnership is working hard on a new recreational corridor to benefit the people and wildlife of the region for generations to come.

The Towns to Teanaway Corridor project will plan and design a trail system spanning across the Cle Elum Ridge from Ronald to Roslyn and Cle Elum with trailheads and signed routes originating in each community.

Recreational connectivity is a key vision for the region. In addition to linking these three towns, the corridor also aims to tie in the Suncadia Development, the Coal Mines Trail, Rat Pack Trail and Iron Horse Trail systems. Currently, Roslyn’s popular trail networks are disconnected from the regional trail systems found on our managed lands and within the Teanaway Community Forest.

Outline of the planning area for the Towns to Teanaway corridor, with current trail systems defined.

The landscape boasts breathtaking views and irreplaceable habitat, with more than 1,000 species of plants and wildlife, including towering ponderosa pines, wolverines, elk and 200 species of birds, including the northern spotted owl and many neo-tropical migrant species, which use these forests as they migrate between the Southern and Northern hemispheres. Communities locally and across Washington state cherish these lands for the diverse array of recreational opportunities.

Hiking near Cle Elum in the Central Cascades Forest. Photo by Caleb and Ariana Babcock.

Cle Elum Ridge has provided a diversity of recreational opportunities to generations of Kittitas County residents and other Washingtonians, including: hiking, mountain biking, hunting, skiing, wildlife watching, horseback riding and snowmobiling. Outdoor recreation provides a significant contribution to local economies.

The northern spotted owl and the barred owl are among 200 bird species that make their homes in the Central Cascades Forest. Photo by Lauren Owens. 

Help us protect the places you love to explore! 

The Nature Conservancy initiated this project at the beginning of this year and is overwhelmed with community support for the idea. We forged a great partnership with the Kittitas County Parks and Recreation District No. 1, which agreed to take over as the project lead. The partners determined that we would need to raise about $70,000 to fund the planning and design process. We provided some initial funding to get the project started and quickly raised the additional funding with help from the Suncadia Fund for Community Enhancement, Western Conservation Project, Kittitas County, the cities of Cle Elum and Roslyn and nearly 40 private individuals.  

We envision an expansive forest landscape that supports recreation and remains healthy and resilient to environmental changes, supports strong wildlife and fish populations, produces a sustainable supply of wood and clean water. Just as important, another key measure of success will be the new corridor's contribution to community vitality.

Banner photo by John Marshall.