Oregon’s Lionshead Fire burn area remains closed while work is underway

A huge effort is underway to reopen the Pacific Crest Trail on Mount Jefferson that burned in the Lionshead Fire. We remind you that entering a closed area is illegal. Please stay out until the area reopens. 

With summer here, PCTA and our partners in the U.S. Forest Service, with the help of Cascade Volunteers, are working rapidly to repair the PCT. Fire rehabilitation work is some of the most challenging and demanding work we do.  

PCTA’s Jeanine Russell, Stacey Lee, Aaron Christensen, Kurt Keesy and Teri Smith working on the PCT in the Lionshead Fire closure area on July 12, 2022.

Much of this area was burned in the 2017 Whitewater Fire, and now with the 2020 Lionshead Fire, we are seeing substantial damage, many downed trees, loss of tread stability, and hazardous conditions that will be prone to sliding and flooding for years to come. We’re in it for the long-haul. Several work crews have been out already this year focusing on downed trees and scouting for larger scale projects. Much more is scheduled soon. Our first priority is the safety of staff, volunteers, and partners. 

We’re rebuilding the trail and addressing hazards. This work will put the Forest Service in a good place to decide to reopen the trail and the area. As public stewards tasked with administering this beautiful place, they will make the decision to lift the closure order. At that time, we’ll celebrate returning to Mount Jefferson. PCTA hopes it reopens this summer, and we’re doing our part to make it happen.  

Much of the area is still under snow, but as it melts out, we’ll do repair work there too.  

Rehabilitating the PCT here is important work for us, and we care deeply about seeing the trail re-opened. This is an especially beautiful section of the trail through Oregon, and we understand the logistical challenges this closure presents to hikers.  

Stay out of closed areas

Trespassing in a closure area is illegal. People have already been ticketed and sent out of the closure area. People found in areas closed to public access may face various consequences including permit revocation, hefty fines and more. Forest Service officers are patrolling the PCT and spending time with many of the trail crews from the PCTA, Cascade Volunteers, and Forest Service that are working in the burn area. Our work is slowed when people enter closed areas and time must be spent addressing their presence. Trespassing needs to stop. 

This fire left a mark on the trail and in the communities around it, and it is healing work to see people working in concert to re-open this special place. Please be patient. Thanks to trail maintainers and land managers, you’ll be able to experience this section of the PCT soon.  

Interested in volunteering on the PCT? Look here. 

Kurt Keesy and Stacey Lee working on a log in the Lionshead Fire closure on July 12, 2022.

Author: Jeanine Russell

Jeanine is PCTA’s Central Cascades Regional Representative, overseeing the PCT from Windigo Pass, Oregon through the Columbia River Gorge. Jeanine loves long trails, long books, and gardening.