Hiking a diverse trail: the great outdoors is finally drawing more people of color

Appeared in The Washington Post

When Fawn Bauer started doing youth outreach at Mount Rainier National Park a decade ago, she made city kids a priority. Most could see the snow-capped icon from their neighborhoods — but too few of them were visiting.

So Bauer contacted schools with high rates of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches. She got transportation grants to bring their students, many Latino and African American, to the 5,400-foot overlook where hiking trails cut through wildflower meadows. The spot is called Paradise.

“We don’t have to spend all our time saying to them, ‘And 50 miles from your home, there’s a national park’ . . . because they get it,” Bauer said.

With the Olympic Mountains on its western fringe and the Cascade Range to the east, the Seattle area is at the center of some of the most eye-popping landscape in the United States. Several million acres of wilderness lie within an easy drive, and in recent years, the increasingly crowded trails here have also begun to reflect a growing diversity — despite Seattle being one of the least diverse major cities in the country… (continue)