Diamond Creek Fire in Pasayten Wilderness, Wash. and Canada

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September 14th, 2017

The Diamond Creek Fire is a huge fire that’s burning near the northern end of the PCT. It’s east of the trail by about 7.5-10 miles. It needs to be closely considered before you head north of Rainy Pass (mile 2589). It started in July.

The Pacific Crest Trail remains open, but the trail is the boundary of the closure area in some places. Harts Pass Road is closed.

The local communities including Mazama and its neighbors are under evacuation notices but they have not been ordered to evacuate yet.

Consider your options closely before you head north of Rainy Pass.

Harts Pass Road is closed. This region is now even more exceptionally remote.

“The Hart’s Pass Road is now closed at the Forest Boundary beyond the Lost River Airport. The PCT is still open, but the access is now Rainy Pass trailhead or Canyon Creek trailhead. The trailheads of Robinson Creek and Rattlesnake are also closed.” – Source

Harts Pass Road is the northernmost road and trailhead on the PCT. Now that it’s closed, northernmost trailhead on the PCT proper is Rainy Pass, a full 61 miles south of the Canadian border.

If you don’t have permission to enter Canada via the PCT, you’ve got extra problems now that Harts Pass Road is closed.

You’re faced with walking from Rainy Pass to the northern terminus and then back to the nearest road. If you head back the Canyon Creek Trailhead (see below), that’s a distance of  100 miles. Bring enough food. If the fire continues to grow, it’s possible that the PCT might also close. To be clear, there are no plans to close the trail at this time, but you should consider it a possibility. You’re in a complicated situation as you lack permission to legally enter Canada.

Carry paper maps that show the region to the west of the PCT and be prepared

We recommend that all hikers heading north of Rainy Pass carry paper maps that show the bail-out routes to the west of the PCT. Know your options.

You’ll likely take the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) west from Holman Pass. You can either:

  • Walk the PNT to Ross Lake and then down to the East Bank Trailhead (30 miles). You’ll need a permit from North Cascades National Park to do this hike.
  • Walk the PNT to Devils Pass (8 miles) and then the Jackita Trail #738 to Canyon Creek Trailhead (14 miles, for a total distance of 22 miles). This trail is steep, narrow in places and it is not recommended for stock.

You can download some 1:50,000 scale maps that show the PNT and Jackita Trail here. You can also download very good maps from our friends at the Pacific Northwest Trail Association here (navigate to Section 6).

Ross Lake Resort runs boat shuttles on the lake that you might find a use for.

The Boundary Trail/Castle Pass Trail from Castle Pass near the border is unmaintained and not recommended. It’s in very bad shape and is extremely difficult to follow.

Check the weather forecasts for high winds, wind direction shifts, warm temperatures, lightning, and know how to react to wildfires.

It’s important to note that the Canada Border Service Agency permit allows you to cross into Canada only on the Pacific Crest Trail. You may not cross into Canada on other trails.

Interactive map showing the fire and side trails



Photo by: Nathaniel Middleton