On Friday, May 11, a dozen volunteers from Suncadia teamed up with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and U.S. Forest Service to do some pre-season maintenance on the Sculpture Rock Trail out of Swauk Campground.
The trail, a mile-long loop, winds through ponderosa pines and western larches above Swauk Creek in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. It climbs 200 feet to a massive sandstone outcropping, the boulders sculpted by wind and rain into an impressive pile. The Sculpture Rock loop is a popular draw for day hikers, with easy access from Highway 97 and close proximity to a developed campground. This high volume of hiker use had caused some wear and tear which the Suncadians and Greenway Trust staff teamed up to tackle.
Using shovels, loppers, and handsaws, the crew cut back brush, removed windfallen trees and limbs, and widened the path. In some places heavy foot traffic had worn a rut in the center of the trail, which acted as a gutter for rainwater and snowmelt to flash
off the hillside. Over time, flowing water would deepen the rut and cut the trail into a trench, dumping sediment into Swauk Creek. The volunteers used a specialized tool called a McLeod to scrape the trail back to a level grade and cut drainage channels across the retreaded trail surface. The end result: a loop trail that’s more clearly established, free of debris and less prone to erosion.
This is just the first of many projects that will need TLC in the Upper Yakima Basin. The USFS is developing a list of Okanogan-Wenatchee trails that need repair, and the Suncadians are looking forward to the challenge!
If you are interested in volunteer trail maintenance in this region, please contact Nicky Pasi, Upper Yakima Basin Coordinator, for more information about upcoming opportunities.