Know Before You Go: Wildfires, Hunting Seasons
With crisp air, ripe berries and fall foliage starting to turn, late summer/early autumn is one of the best times to hike in Washington. But with wildfires burning in several parts of the state and hunting season gearing up, it's important to check more than the weather forecast as you plan your hiking, backpacking, climbing or trailrunning adventures.
Wildfires in the Cascades: call ahead
On Sept. 8, more than 3,000 lightning strikes ignited fires in Washington, most of them on the eastern side of the Cascades.
With so many of the wildfires still burning across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, it's a good idea to contact a ranger station if you are planning to head to the east side of the Cascades. Better yet, choose a hiking destination away from the fires altogether: near Mount Baker, on the western side of the North Cascades, in the Olympics or in the Colville National Forest.
The Cle Elum Ranger District will likely be issuing a closure order for the Stafford Creek Area and Forest Road 9703 in the Teanaway Area on Sept. 13 (which includes access to Standup Creek, Earl Peak, Navaho Pass, Stafford Creek, and Miller Peak trails).
Forest officials have also closed a portion of the Entiat Ranger District for public safety reasons. The closure includes the following campgrounds, roads and trails:
- Three Creeks
- Spruce Grove
- North Fork
Forest road closures:
- Entiat River #1400
- Cool Creek #1431
- Ice Creek #1405
- 45 Mile Sheep Drive #1432
- Pomas Creek #1453
- Emerald Park #1230
- Pyramid Mtn. #1433
- Duncan Ridge #1434
- Anthem Creek #1435
- Myrtle Lake #1404a
- Larch Lake Hiker #1430a
- Larch Lake #1430
- Cow Creek Meadows #1404
- Garland Peak #1408
- Shetipo Creek #1429
- Three Creeks #1428
- North Fork Entiat River
- Pugh Ridge #1438
- Pyramid Viewpoint #1441
- South Pyramid Creek #1439
- Butte Creek #1440
- Fern Lake #1436
The Cascade Creek fire also continues to burn near Mount Adams, keeping trails closed and threatening additional closure for a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
As of Sept. 13, the northwest corner of the fire was within 3 miles of the PCT. Officials said that was a possibility that a portion of the PCT might close in the next few days. They encouraged PCT hikers to plan ahead and call the Mt. Adams Ranger District at (509) 395-3400. The most likely closure would be the portion between Forest Road 23 and Riley Creek Trail #64 junction near Sheep Lake.
For the latest information about closures due to wildfires in Washington, visit InciWeb.
Hiking during hunting season: wear orange, make noise
Saturday, Sept. 15 marks the start of a new deer hunting season in some parts of the Alpine Lakes, Glacier Peak, Pasayten, Olympic Peninsula, and Henry Jackson Wilderness Areas and Lake Chelan Recreation Area.
Below are some tips to stay safe on trails during hunting season, the first of which is to know when and where you might encounter hunters on your hikes:
- Know when hunting seasons are. Bear season begins in August, followed by grouse, deer and several other species in September. October is the high point of hunting season. Check more hunting season dates.
- Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. You can purchase safety-orange backpack covers and vests here.
- If you hike with a dog, keep your pup on leash and consider having them wear a brightly-colored pack, coat or an old, orange t-shirt.
- Make noise and make yourself known. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence. Sound carries well across mountain basins, and hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
- Know your own comfort level. If hunting makes you uneasy, choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed, such as a national park or a state park.