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Road Closures on the MBS

Posted by Lauren Braden at Apr 13, 2011 04:40 PM |
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There is a long list of summer road closures on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. WTA explores what hikes will be off-limits in 2011.

Just when the sun starts to show itself with some regularity and your hiking guidebooks get pulled off the shelves in anticipation of summer excursions... we've got some bad news.

Well, ultimately, it is good news. If you've been around The Signpost Blog for long enough, you know that one of our un-favorite topics of conversation is storm-damaged Forest Service roads, particularly on the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, that don't get repaired season after season because there are no funds to repair them. And well, finally, there are some funds to repair them!

The thing is, the Forest Service has the same window of opportunity to access these areas that we do: summer. We got our first taste of what summer road repairs mean for access disruptions last year when repairs closed the Suiattle River Road and Canyon Creek Road for chunks of time.

Let's just say that if those two closures last year cramped your hiking style, this summer will dent it up real good as you will be contending with those closures again, and a whole lot more.

For the full, long list of closures, please click here. It's impressive. We'll keep you on top of these closures week-by-week this summer as closures happen - make sure you check the blog often and that you are signed up to receive Trail News. And, we're hoping to plot these on our Hike Finder map with the closure dates embedded to make it easy for folks to see which trailheads will be inaccessible for which periods of time. In the meanwhile, here are some lowlights:

No Western Access to Glacier Peak

Road construction this summer effectively cuts off all western access to Glacier Peak and the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The only access for climbers and hikers this summer will a long approach from the east on the White River Trail.

Roads that will be repaired that penetrate this area include:

  • North Fork Sauk Road (FR 49). This road is closed at its start now through September, repairing washouts and replacing the Lost Creek Bridge. Several trails will be inaccessible, most notably the North Fork Sauk Trail #649, which leads to the Pacific Crest Trail and Pilot Ridge Trail #652. Also closed will be the Round Lake Trail #646 and the trail that leads to Sloan Peak (#648).
  • Suiattle River Road (FR 26). More often closed than open these past several years, construction this summer and fall will ultimately reopen the road to milepost (MP) 20. That's the good news. The bad news is that the road will be closed from MP 0-11 weekdays through August, and at MP 11 until November. Lots of beautiful hikes will be off-limits, including Huckleberry Mountain #780, Downey Creek #768, Green Mountain #782 and many more.
  • White Chuck River Road (FR 23). We will be regaining some of the glory of the White Chuck River area in 2012. The Forest Service has the road closed at its start, but will be reopening it at MP 11 when work along it is complete and the remainder of the old road is decommissioned. The difference is that this summer hikers and bikers will not be allowed on the road at all.

Other Spectacular Hikes Off-Limits

  • Cascade River Road (FR 15). We've heard that the closure won't be as bad as the original announcement sounds. The road will be periodically closed at MP 12 to repair Hard Creek Bridge. The press release says August; we've heard June. Nevertheless, it will be wise to check conditions before setting off to hike Cascade Pass and the Sahale Arm.
  • Canyon Creek Road (FR 15). This is the easy way into Damfino Lakes and Excelsior Peak #625, as well as the Canyon Ridge Trail #689. Unfortunately, the road is closed at MP 0 until further notice.
  • Tupso Pass Road (FR 41) is closed to vehicles at MP 3.0 through August, blocking access to the Three Fingers Peak #641 and other trails in the area.
  • Cayada Creek Road (FR 7810). Put gorgeous Summit Lake #1177 on your list for fall or next year, because road construction will block access July 15 and into August.
  • Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road will close July 15 through August at MP 15, blocking access to the Dingford Creek Trailhead 1005.1.


Extremist Litigation

As we anxiously await repairs to the Suiattle Road, a lawsuit from Pilchuck Audubon, North Cascades Conservation Council and Bill Lider seeks to keep the road closed, delay repairs and then pay damages to them. I have closely followed USFS efforts and ideas to provide access and to do it in a responsible way. These plaintiffs are pursuing their own selfish, extreme agenda not caring about consequences to the general hiking/camping public or to the thin USFS budget. If you donate to these groups, please think again. Where does WTA stand on this?

Posted by:

"paul wagner" on May 03, 2011 09:26 PM