220 Jewett Blvd, PO Box 218, White Salmon, WA 98672 | 509.493.2112
South side of Mt. Adams closed through spring due to Cascade Creek fire
Check with ranger district
STILL OPEN — The Mt. Adams Ranger District recently announced that it’s closing portions of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. Adams Wilderness through next spring due to danger from falling trees that were killed by the Cascade Creek wildfire. However, no Sno-Parks or ski trails are affected by the closure, which means places like the Eagle Loop Trail (above) will remain open for winter recreation.
November 14, 2012
By BEN MITCHELLThe arrival of the fall and winter rains to the Columbia River Gorge has undoubtedly extinguished concerns in most residents' minds of any more wildfires starting for the rest of the year.
But up near Mt. Adams, danger lingers due to the destruction caused by the Cascade Creek wildfire -- a blaze that grew from a single September lightning strike to an inferno that torched 20,000 acres of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest by mid-October, as well as the cars of two unlucky hikers. A large tract of the Mt. Adams Wilderness and the Gifford Pinchot was closed after the fire started and Mt. Adams Ranger District Ranger Nancy Ryke said it could stay that way through spring.
"We're mostly worried about dead trees falling on people," Ryke explained. "None of those trails are cleared. It's not really safe for the public to be recreating in."
Ryke said the dead trees, called snags, were killed by the fire and have been falling across forest service roads and trails regularly enough to cause concern. Areas south of Mt. Adams also continue to smolder despite the rains and more recently, snows that have dumped on the region.
The closure area roughly starts west of the Aiken Lava Bed and runs along the base of Mt. Adams at different elevations. Its western boundary follows the Riley Trail and National Forest Service Road 070 and its southern boundary is formed by various sections of NFSR 8031.
The closure is only supposed to minimally impact winter recreation. Ryke said a small portion of the area available to snowmobilers in the Gifford Pinchot (snowmobiling is not allowed in the Mt. Adams Wilderness) will be impacted, but none of the forest's Sno-Parks or ski trails will be closed, nor will the Mt. Adams winter climbing route located east of the Aiken Lava Bed.
Ryke said rangers have been continually monitoring the area since the Cascade Creek fire, but haven't begun clearing debris yet. She explained the district will have to secure funding to buck up and clear the trails when the snows clear -- a task she expected wouldn't start until June.
As of now, access trails leading into the closure area have been barricaded and applied with signs to warn outdoors enthusiasts of the danger. According to the closure order, individuals who enter the forbidden area can be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months.
"Its people's personal responsibility to know the closure information," Ryke noted.
The entire closure area description and map can be found on the Mt. Adams Ranger District Web site at www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/giffordpinchot/alerts-notices/?aid=15086