WASHINGTON

Norse Peak Fire near Mt. Rainier, Washington

Sections:
November 27th, 2017

The Pacific Crest Trail is closed for 16.2 miles from the Fog City Trail #967 at Bear Gap (~ mile 2327.5) to the north boundary of Norse Peak Wilderness (~ mile 2343.7).

The Norse Peak Fire started during a lightning storm on August 11, 2017. That storm ignited 13 fires within the Naches Ranger District of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington.

The trail closure is composed of two separate orders because the cascade crest is also the boundary between the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie NF and the Okanogan Wenatchee NF.

In Spring 2018, after the snow has melted, we’ll work with the U.S. Forest Service in the area to scout the trail, assess whether it needs to remain closed and what we can recommend for a detour. We’ll update this page as soon as we have a recommendation.

Seattle Public Utility staff sent us the following important note:
PLEASE get the message out to the thru-hiker community that the PCT closure in WA state, due to the Norse Peak Fire, does not allow hiking on/in the Cedar River Watershed. The Cedar River Watershed is owned by the City of Seattle (90,000+ acres) and is the unfiltered water source for almost a million people. Trespass onto City property is a misdemeaner and heavily enforced. Hikers are ending up near Ravensdale WA with almost no options to get back to the trail. Going NW through the Green Watershed is bascially a dead-end without walking along major highways (Highway 18 to 90).

many trees down

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By: Gary Pegg
September 11th, 2017

I was forced to turn around on my thru ride just north of Sitkum Creek and the north Whitechuck trail junction by several massive windfalls. Other windfalls block any possible go arounds both up and down hill from the trees across the trail. These are large trees, 36 to 60 inch in diameter on a steep hillside that on foot I repeatedly slipped and fell while trying to locate a way to get the horse around. I do not believe it is possible to get a horse through this area.

overgrown trail and tree down

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By: Julie Watkins-Jarvies
August 14th, 2017

Just came through Section K and while overgrowth in WA is expected, miles 2508-2510 is in desperate shape. It looks like fallen tree has diverted the creek down the PCT. With no natural outlet it’s become a swamp. Popping out on the Milk Creek “valley trail” is extremely overgrown with washed out portions on slipping banks. There is also a dangerous tree to get over along the way. Precarious at best! There are two FS crews in the area.

Utility tree-trimming crew working along PCT in Gorge

Sections:
October 27th, 2016

Beware Nov 1-30, 2016 on the Washington side of the Gorge, where the PCT follows along a powerline corridor from Bridge of the Gods (Highway 14) about one mile north. A crew from the utility company will be brushing and tree trimming with heavy equipment.  They’ll stop hikers for a short time if needed for safety, but usually, they’ll be able to stop their work for trail users to pass through.

Section J Stevens to Park Lakes

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By: inchworm
July 19th, 2016

The summer is coming very late this year and both natural conditions and trail maintenance are not yet to where they would be for a July hike. Several pieces of the trail have significant amounts of large downed trees, notably south of Deep Lake to Waptus Trail 1310, and from Lemah Creek south to Spectacle Lake. While most are passable by hikers (only once did I have to remove my pack), it will slow travel time significantly. Between Waptus and Escondido Ridge, the brush was thick enough to slow you down also. This stretch is impassable by stock.

Water levels are high for this time of year. The “potentially treacherous” ford just south of Deception Pass is still quite high and I have no idea how one hiker we met barely got his feet wet (he said he went far downstream). Everyone else got a thigh-high soak in cold, swift water. Many streams and creeks required knee high wet crossings where normally you could boulder hop or wade ankle deep.

Snow is still sitting in patches and in some cases in 1/8 mile traverses in the bowls at high elevation (Chickamin Ridge especially). You can see the trail, so you won’t get lost though, and it is crossable and good condition midday if you are comfortable with snow.

Bugs were really not bad with recent rain and cold. Deception Lake was awful, plan not to stop there yet. Temperatures were in the 50s by day and 40s at night.

All in all, this section’s challenges are as though it is late June, rather than July.

Photo by: Nathaniel Middleton