Friends of Badger Mountain readies its new vineyard trailChris Lindhartsen
The local nonprofit that built public trails on Badger and Candy mountains is preparing to open a new trailhead as it presses for a 20-mile through-trail linking Amon Basin and the Yakima River by way of Little Badger, Badger, Candy and Red mountains. Friends of Badger Mountain, which marked its 15th anniversary in June, will celebrate by opening its newest trail this fall. The Red Mountain Vineyard Trail should open by Thanksgiving, said Sharon Grant, a member of the board and spokeswoman. The newest trail follows a recent win for local hikers: The city of Richland completed its drawn-out project to replace the uneven steps at the trailhead to Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve this spring. The project was partially completed in April 2019, leaving a steep gap in the path. For the next year, most visitors detoured around the closed section. Heartier souls scrambled the steep hillside beside the closed trail. Badger Mountain made its debut in 2005, thanks to a partnership between the all-volunteer conservancy-minded nonprofit and Benton County. The team followed that up with a new trail network on Candy Mountain in 2017. More than 310,000 people used the two mountains in 2019. Four out of five hikers live in the Tri-Cities, according to a survey by Richland park rangers. Friends of Badger Mountain has long had Red Mountain in its sights. Unable to secure a corridor across its privately owned ridgeline, it lowered its focus to the vineyards below. The Red Mountain Vineyard Trail will carry the ridge-to-ridge trail through vineyards of the popular wine grape growing area. Hedges Winery in Benton City built its first section. The final “ridge” is Little Badger Mountain, which is in the city of Richland. The 3.5-mile trail will extend from the Sagebrush Trail on the eastern boundary Badger Mountain through the “saddle” to Little Badger, which boasts Richland’s highest elevation. Friends of Badger Mountain planned to begin raising the $500,000 in January to buy the remaining 21 acres to complete the trail. That is on hold because of the Covid-19 crisis although donations can be made online through friendsofbadger.org/little-badger-mountain. The city of Richland set aside $200,000 in lodging taxes to support the project. Article Source: Tri-City Business Journal
Local firefighters hike Badger after Seattle Stairclimb postponedChris Lindhartsen
RICHLAND, Wash. — Firefighters from across the Tri-Cities weren't going to let a postponed event stop them from climbing for a cause. (See the story at YakTriNews.com) The Seattle Stairclimb, hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, was set to take place on Sunday. Due to coronavirus concerns, it was postponed. Local agencies were expected to attend. Despite the unfortunate news, they decided to come together and climb up Badger Mountain instead. “But what’s really cool — the silver lining in this is that we kind of get to come together as a community and all the regional teams can participate in this climb,” said Tony Jorgensen, a Kennewick firefighter. They went up the mountain in full gear — all their clothing, air packs and boots. While the event has not yet been rescheduled, you can still donate to the society.
Something new is coming for hikers on Badger and Candy mountainsChris Lindhartsen
Tri-City hikers could have a new trail spur on Badger Mountain as soon as this fall. (See the story at the Tri-City Herald) The Friends of Badger Mountain will be working first on a short trail addition on Candy Mountain, with work possible next week. The Benton County Park Board gave its approval to both projects. The larger project will add a trail from the east side of the Badger Mountain Preserve, mostly across adjoining land donated to the Friends of Badger Mountain by Mark and Milo Bauder. Park board approval was needed because the first 30 to 40 feet of the new trail spur is on county property. The spur will extend from what is now Sagebrush trail to the east, not far from where the Langdon, Skyline and Sagebrush trails meet. The spur and section of the Sagebrush Trail are expected to eventually be considered part of the Skyline Trail. It would start the trail system heading to the east toward another high point of the Tri-Cities, Little Badger Mountain. Friends of Badger Mountain are working on a proposal to bring the trail system to the top of Little Badger Mountain, through a patchwork of agreements for easements, purchases and use of Richland city-owned land. Getting a trail to the summit of Little Badger may be a year or two away, but the spur trail on Badger Mountain is a step toward that goal, said Jim Langdon, trailmaster for the Friends of Badger Mountain. The new trail section on Badger Mountain would be roughly a third of a mile long, ending at the sidewalk along Queensgate Drive. There is no parking where the trail would end, but the sidewalk there is already used by recreational walkers. It would give them an access point to the Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve trail system, Langdon said. Initial plans were to work on the new spur this fall, but there is some question now about whether all technical issues will be worked out in time for fall work. If the work has to be delayed, it would be done in the spring, Langdon said. Also, the city of Richland is expecting work this winter to finish trail improvements to replace steps near the east trailhead. CANDY MOUNTAIN SPUR The Candy Mountain trail spur would be much shorter than the spur planned on Badger Mountain. That mountain’s trail system includes a fairly flat loop trail that can be started from the parking lot with about 25 plant-identification signs. Four larger geological interpretation signs are planned. One would explain “erratics,” or boulders left on Tri-City hillsides by the series of ice age floods that swept through the area from Lake Missoula. One of the granite boulders, now darkened by lichen, is about 80 feet from the interpretive loop. A spur trail is planned to the erratic with a sign to help hikers understand the Tri-City-area geology. The spur is a joint project of Benton County the Friends of Badger Mountain and the Ice Age Floods Institute. Ice age glaciers that moved down from Canada once blocked Lake Missoula, a huge glacial body of water in what’s now northern and western Montana. As water in the lake built up, it periodically burst through the ice dam and swept across norther Idaho into Washington. As the water flowed south, the Wallula Gap served as a natural dam, backing water up behind it in the Pasco Basin for a few days to a week. As the water pooled, icebergs bumped up against the sides of the mountains. Then the water receded, and the icebergs became stranded and melted, depositing soil and rock, including the erratics that can be seen today on Tri-City-area hillsides. In the deepest floods, just the tip of Candy Mountain would have formed a small island. People willing to volunteer for trail maintenance and building, may contact Langdon at Trailmaster@friendsofbadger.org or 943-3992.