I'm excited to report that we have wrapped up another successful season of the Trailhead Ambassador program.
For those who aren't familiar, the Trailhead Ambassador program is designed to equip Columbia Gorge hikers with information they need for a safe, informed, and positive experience. The program places friendly volunteers at popular trailheads in the Gorge and Mt. Hood area to educate hikers on Leave No Trace principles, underscore trail safety tips, and highlight other nearby recreational opportunities through online resources such as Ready, Set, GOrge.
Trailhead Ambassador began in 2017 to help mitigate wildflower-season congestion at the popular Dog Mountain trailhead, and has since grown in terms of trailheads served, volunteers, and partners. The collaborative partnership includes Friends of the Columbia Gorge, the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Regional Tourism Alliance, Oregon State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.
In 2019, 106 volunteers set up at 12 trailheads in and around the Gorge from Earth Day to Labor Day. They gave 2,392 hours of their time, interacting with almost 19,000 visitors. One volunteer said, “Greeting people and sharing our love and passion for enjoying and protecting the Scenic Area can influence them to get excited and take ownership in being a good steward too.”
The program wrapped up on Sept. 14 with a volunteer celebration at the Columbia Grange. Representatives from the Forest Service and State parks attended to thank the volunteers and everyone celebrated another successful season. Volunteers even had an opportunity to take photos with Smokey the Bear and J.R. Beaver!