Packwood Trail Project Seeks to Establish 8-Mile Accessible Loop in Next Few Years


The Packwood Trail Project held its annual public meeting on Jan. 22, where board members presented the project’s mission and goals.

The organization was first formed, informally, in 2016 by a group of like-minded community members who simply enjoyed outdoor recreation in Packwood. The nonprofit was not incorporated until the end of 2017. Now, the board is seeking to break through on its first trail-building project: an 8-mile paved trail from Snyder Road to around La Wis Wis campground.

The idea has been submitted to the National Forest Service, as most of the trail would stretch through its land, and is awaiting approval to begin the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

Sarah Schmidt, the organization’s former president who now serves as an at-large board member, said the trail aligns with the nonprofit’s priorities of creating or sustaining trails that are below the usual winter snowline, have little elevation loss or gain, are accessible to hikers and bikers and begin with trailheads near existing paved roads.

“We're all after the same awesome trail experience. We all want easy access and we all want loop opportunities. We're all after spreading the love of trail heads,” Schmidt said. “It's frustrating to have to park your car at a blown out Forest Service road, hike three miles to the trailhead and then still have to go up 6,000 feet, and it’s an out-and-back. And that’s kind of what our trail options are right now in Packwood.”

There are many existing Forest Service trails in Packwood, Schmidt said, that with a little love could meet the goals of the nonprofit.

But, going out with a chainsaw to clear them up before getting permission from land managers is not a good way to build relationships, she noted.

Though the NEPA process is arduous, and whether or not the project will even be able to go down that road is yet to be seen, it’s the only legal way to build a trail on that land that ticks all the boxes.

The board is in talks with local rangers and organizations with the hopes of beginning the process soon.

“Ideally if we got permission this year … (it would take) three years until the assessment was done and you could actually start digging, start actually working on the trail,” said board member Tyler Forman.

Packwood Trail Project is not a membership organization, but still is seeking anyone who’s willing to help out with fundraising when it gets further along in the proposal. The organization also sends out infrequent newsletters to those who sign up on its website at

For updates on the Packwood Trail Project, visit the website or head to its Facebook page, @packwoodtrailproject.