Ride the Willapa Brings in Nearly $9K for Trail Improvements


Ride the Willapa saw its largest crowd this year and raised nearly $9,000 from ticket sales.

“It went really, really well,” said Chris Brewer, who organized the event. “All our volunteers were happy, all our riders were happy, people from beginning to finish. … Everybody just loved being together out on the trails enjoying company this week.”

Lewis County Community Trails, which is an area nonprofit, hosted the event to raise money for developing the Willapa Hills Trail. The event brought in $8,968 from ticket sales alone. Brewer said the organization may throw in another $1,000 of its own money to grant match for general projects on the trail, owned by Washington State Parks.

“That was just a phenomenal response from the community,” Brewer said.

The ride took participants of all levels through the Chehalis River Valley. Riders could choose to participate for a single day or camp overnight at Rainbow Falls.

“We have families that have ridden all three years and they say this is the best family-type event they can imagine,” said Steve Ward, who is the logistics coordinator for the event.

There were 460 registered riders, which Brewer said is 150 more than last year. Three hundred of those riders camped overnight. Ride the Willapa had a permit for 250 campers and the rest found accomodations on their own.

“I think next year we will explore avenues to accommodate other campers as well,” Brewer said.

Ward said the organization is considering a second campsite about five miles further than Rainbow Falls, where it could partner with one of the farms.

Before next year’s ride, Brewer hopes to make more improvements along the trail and extend the mileage. He also said he is working on a plan for a bikepacking component.

“We don’t want to lose the family-friendly component, but we do want to be all things to all people,” Brewer said.

This year, there were three different bike mechanics to help with technical difficulties.

“These aren’t the people that do the STP (Seattle to Portland),” Ward said. “These are the people who take their bikes out for their kids. These are the average bikes you see for families and they start to have mechanical problems. We knew that when you invite families to come along that you would need that support.”

Brewer said that although the crowd was significantly larger than last year, the riders were respectful of the trail.

“Everybody was really well spread out along the trail,” Brewer said. “People were good to the facilities there. An hour after everyone left the state park yesterday, it looked like we hadn’t been there at all. Everyone was good about being self contained.”

Ward added that he was pleased with the feedback he got for the event.

“The feedback has been how appreciative they (the riders) were of the suppport, not just of the ride, but the community as well,” Ward said. “It left a great impression on a lot of these folks from outside the area about what Lewis County is all about.”