Since announcing the Blue Mountains Trail in November of last year, we've been busy updating the route, adding to the website, and preparing for more people to come hike the trail this coming summer. So many people have reached out to offer their support, be it with finding the right alignment for the route or assisting hikers while they're on the the trail. The excitement is real, and we're working to ensure much of the trail is hiker-ready this summer.
We've spent the past four months soliciting and reviewing route feedback. The proposed route has been shortened to 530 miles, but the new route also removed many of miles that were on pavement and some of the busier gravel roads. It also allowed us to avoid the bushwhacks through poison ivy that created a fair share of hardship for the Intrepid Trio during their inaugural hike. In addition to the feedback we received from groundtruth hikes, a special thanks is due to Greg Brown, Barbara Hetrick, and their collaborators from the Blues Crew at Blue Mountains Land Trust, and to Jared Bowman and Kevin Green from Malheur National Forest, for their route guidance.
Just this week we created a new Blue Mountains Trail Maps page on our website that includes an interactive map that will allow you to see the full route (pink line), including the supported alternates (dashed orange line).
We will continue to update this page with trail maps as they are published. The interactive map is not a hiking map; these are being developed separately and will contain more of the information you will need to hike the route. So if you plan to hike the trail this summer, bookmark this page and we will send out updates to everyone who has signed up on the newsletter list (you can sign up here) when more maps are published.
We were recently awarded funding from Travel Oregon as a Destination Ready project for work that will happen between now and the end of September. This will be instrumental for developing improved mapping for the trail and hiker-focused town guides for the communities on the route. A large portion of the support will allow us to contract with a part-time trail coordinator to work with us this spring and summer assisting hikers and participating in trail maintenance efforts across the region. It also will enable us enlist hiker support for trail maintenance this summer. If you are interested in hiking a short section of trail with a handsaw or pair of lopers, let me know (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll work with you to find the right section of trail. We'll even throw in a pair of work gloves!
We also announced that the Blue Mountains Trail will serve as the focal point for Hellraiser 2021. This year's event will be virtual and tickets are on sale now. The fundraiser will feature a keynote by Renee Patrick who completed the first solo-thru hike this past October. The auction prizes include a trail flyover, a Hells Canyon rafting trip, a guided hike and fly fishing at Twin Lakes on the Elkhorn Crest, and many more destinations along the trail's routes. Please join us for this special event to help support our efforts.
In the past few months, we've done trail presentations, received some wonderful press, and we even got a shout-out from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on his Facebook page. It is so humbling and exciting to see the momentum continue to grow. Come visit us this summer in Northeast Oregon on the Blue Mountains Trail, be it for a day hike, an overnight backpacking trip, or if you are an accomplished thru-hiker, to take on the full trail.