Located near Skykomish, Wash., the Iron Goat Trail occupies the upper and lower sections of an abandoned Great Northern Railway grade. Hikers enjoy the trail today, thanks to the vision of Volunteers for Outdoor Washington and the Forest Service.
About 10,000 people a year walk the historic trail which wanders through nine miles of lovely forests of ferns, alders, and evergreens and is barrier-free for nearly two-thirds of its length.
The trail has almost 100 individual volunteers working on it every year. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has seen about 150,000 volunteer hours put into the project.
Volunteers for Outdoor Washington member and retired electrical engineer Dennis Evans has led the volunteer effort, serving as an historic site steward, interpretive hike leader and, since 2008, the Iron Goat Trail coordinator with the Forest Service. In December 2011, Evans accepted the Forest Service Pacific Northwest regional Trails Volunteer of the Year award for his work.
“Dennis has been a steady force, logging a staggering 4,538 hours,” said Tom Davis, trails specialist for the Skykomish Ranger District.
During the field season Evans drives from his home in Marysville, Wash., to the trail twice a week without fail. Often he is accompanied by his wife, Sandy, who he met volunteering in 1992 and married three years later on the trail.
Evans began volunteering because it was a good way to get outdoors, with one important difference: “With trail work, at the end of the day you can say you’ve accomplished something,” he said.