Salmon August Complex near Etna, Calif (Wallow Fire and more)

August 18th, 2017

Update at 2:30 pm on 8/18/17

The Pacific Crest Trail is closed from Sawyers Bar Road/Etna Summit (mile 1597) north for more than 20 miles. The closure will become official in the next couple days and extend to approximately Halfmile mile 1620 in the Marble Valley.  Given current conditions, it is probably best for northbound hiker to skip to Seiad Valley and southbound hikers will need to skip to Etna Summit.  The trail was previously closed to the Kidder Creek Trail (approximately mile 1612.5 – note that this trail is not marked on Halfmile maps) but the closure is being extended due to the growth in the fires. This is on Klamath National Forest in Marble Mountain Wilderness.

There are a number of other fires in the area, and the Wallow and Pointers Fires are being managed as part of the Salmon August Complex.

Closure map

We do not have a current closure map as the closure is being extended.


Alternate information

Update: do not use the old alternate. We’re leaving it up for a bit in case someone is already on it and needs it. The PCT is now closing in the Kidder Creek Trail area. Do not head onto Kidder Creek Trail or the PCT in the area until more is known about the new closure.

If you’re aiming to walk as much as possible

It looks pretty feasible to leave the trail south of the closure area, do some road walking and maybe ride in a car, and then rejoin the PCT. This route is ~38.3 miles.

Download maps of an alternate that takes you from the Duck Lake Trail to the Kidder Creek Trail: Wallow Fire PCT detour map 8.16.17 (27 mb PDF). This is a GeoPDF that should be printed and can also be opened in the Avenza App.

Alternate directions for a northbound hiker from Duck Lake Trail to Kidder Creek Trail

  1. Leave the PCT mile ~1589.4 by turning right (east) on the Duck Lake Trail #5507 for 3.9 miles to Duck Lake Trailhead
  2. Turn right (south) onto Road #41N14 for 1.3 miles
  3. Turn left (east) onto Road #40N22 for 0.6 miles
  4. Turn left (north) onto Road #3G002 for 7 miles
  5. Turn left (north) onto Highway 3 for 4.4 miles to Etna, California. You might want to ride in a car for Highway 3 as the road does not always have a shoulder. Be safe!
  6. Visit Etna, CA
  7. Continue heading north via Highway 3 for 6.3 more miles
  8. Turn left (west) onto Main Street in Greenview, CA, take Main Street for 0.4 miles past the Post Office
  9. Turn left (west) onto Kidder Creek Road for 9.8 miles to Kidder Creek Trailhead. Road becomes North Kidder Creek Road #42N04
  10. Rejoin trail tread on Kidder Creek Trail #5545 for 4.6 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail near mile 1612.5

You could also just walk north to Etna Summit

From Etna Summit, you’d take a car down to Etna.

You could also just skip ahead to the next trail town [Update: this is likely the best option at this time.]

You’d head via car or bus to Seiad Valley. The bus goes via Yreka. More info: 


Fires in Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon

August 17th, 2017

Multiple fires are now burning along the PCT in the Three Sisters Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail is closed between Elk Lake (mile 1,950) and Lava Camp Lake (mile 1,980) near McKenzie Pass and Highway 242. Much of the rest of Three Sisters Wilderness is also closed and will remain closed at least through the eclipse.

Update at 8:25 pm on 8/17/17: we no longer recommend walking from Elk Lake to Sisters. The fires in this area are growing. It’s probably best to sit tight. Read more about how to react to wildfires.


Closure map

As of 8/17/17 there is no current closure map. We are told that the closure is expanding. Stay tuned for an updated map from the Forest Service.

How to get around the closure

This closure, combined with the Whitewater Fire closure on Mt. Jefferson, means that it is hard to hike much of the PCT in Central Oregon.

There are lots of ways to handle these closures. Here are a few ideas.

If you are in the area during the eclipse, note that significant overcrowding is expected. Hotels and campgrounds—anything reservable—is already reserved. Traffic will be bad on days around the event. On eclipse day, gridlock is predicted along highways in the totality zone. This can seriously affect people trying to start a hike, end a hike, or resupply. Long-distance hikers hoping to pass through Sisters or Bend immediately around the event will be impacted.

1) Hike north from Elk Lake on the east side of Three Sisters to the town of Sisters, Oregon

Update: the Milli Fire grew towards Sisters and we no longer recommend walking any alternate from Elk Lake to Sisters. We recommend leaving the trail at Elk Lake. We’re leaving this information up for a while in case any hikers are already on the alternate.

Map from the afternoon of 8/17/17 shows thick smoke on the alternate (green line)

Download and print this detour map: Elk-Lake-to-Sisters-PCT-detour-map-8.17.17 (21mb PDF). This is a GeoPDF that can also be opened in the Avenza app.

This route combines some very scenic hiking with some road walking.

  1. Exit the PCT at mile 1950.1 by heading east on Island Meadow Trail #3 for one mile (towards Elk Lake)
  2. Take Cascade Lakes Highway Forest Service road #46 to the north  approximately 5 miles to Devils Lake
  3. Head North on South Sisters Climbing Trail #36 (located at the turn in the Hwy) for 1.9 miles
  4. Head East (turn right)  on Moraine Lake Trail #17.1 for 2.5 miles
    NOTE: This alternate was modified from here north on 8.17.17 as the Milli Fire grew. Ignore previous directions and go this way instead:
  5. Head north (turn left) on Green Lakes Trail #17  for 7.9 miles to Park Meadow Trail #4075
  6. Head east (turn right) on Park Meadow Trail #4075 for approximately 5.6 miles to the Park Meadow Trailhead
  7. Travel north on Forest Road #16 for approximately 16 miles to the town of Sisters.

Then, either walk up Highway 242 (not recommended unless the road closes to cars) or shuttle north in a car. To resume walking north and the open portion of the PCT (a 28 mile section, from mile 1980.1-2008.7, is open before you get to the Whitewater Fire closure), head west on 242 to the Lava Camp Lake trailhead.

Doesn’t sound like something that you want to do? You might just head to Bend from Elk Lake and skip walking to Sisters.

2) From Sisters, Oregon

Evening update on 8/17/17: Highway 242 is now closed due to the Milli Fire. Some residences in the Sisters area are apparently under evacuation.

A) The “hike as much of the PCT as possible” option still requires car support

The trail is open from Highway 242/McKenzie Pass (mile 1980) to Marion Lake Trail (Trail # 3437)/Minto Pass (mile 2008.5). It’s a beautiful section if it’s not smokey. Highway 242 is a twisty mountain road that we don’t recommend walking. To get back to the PCT from Sisters, we recommend getting a ride in a car.

Because Highway 242 is closed, you won’t be able to walk from McKenzie Pass to Santiam Pass. If you make it to Santiam, you could head north for a bit. But realistically, with these fires, you probably should just wait for the situation to evolve or skip north.

You’ll then hike north to the Marion Lake Trail. Take the Marion Lake Trail and then the road, west to Highway 22 near Marion Forks. From there, you should get in a car and travel through the town of Detroit and then back to the PCT at Britenbush Lake. We don’t recommend walking the highway in this area. From Detroit, drive up road 46 to road 4220 (a somewhat rough dirt road) and up to Britenbush Lake.

From Britenbush Lake, hike north and have a wonderful time!

B) Take public transit further north to near Mt. Hood <- perhaps the best option at time of writing

Depending on the day of the week, you can take a series of buses from Sisters, through Bend and/or Redmond and on towards Government Camp near Mt. Hood. It seems like using public transit will require overnighting in Redmond, Oregon.

Try asking the last bus driver to drop you off where the PCT crosses Highway 26. It’s at Wapinitia Pass, 7.2 miles before Government Camp. There is a trailhead parking area there. It’s near Frog Lake. This is mile 2084 on the Pacific Crest Trail.

For public transit information, here’s some information

C) Get a ride north to Britenbush Lake

If you have someone to drive you to Britenbush Lake, it’s a pretty good option. You’ll skip the Whitewater Fire closure, rejoining the PCT at the northern boundary of the closure.

D) How about going to Eugene and up the west side?

To us, it seems easier to stay on the east side of the Cascades. But if you have some other good idea, go for it!

How about continuous footsteps?

We’ve spent considerable time looking into obscure trails and dirt roads to get you around these closures and have come up short. Especially for the Whitewater Fire, we couldn’t find a good, safe, legal and efficient way to walk around the closure. The idea of walking the Deschutes River all the way to the Columbia River Gorge has been floated, but it’s so, so far away from the trail that we won’t be exploring its feasibility.

Whitewater Fire on Mt. Jefferson, Oregon

August 16th, 2017

Due to the Whitewater Fire in Oregon’s Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, the PCT is closed from the Marion Lake Trail (Trail # 3437)/Minto Pass (2008.5) north to Breitenbush Lake (mile 2037).

The trail will remain closed through the eclipse. Read the announcement.

Pacific Crest Trail hikers traveling north have the option to hike along the PCT to the Marion Lake Trail and exit to the west, picking up the trail again at Breitenbush Lake (be sure to check if the road is open or closed), or exit at Santiam Pass, south of the Marion Lake Trail.

To the south, the Three Sisters Fires further complicate the situation

Please head on over to the Three Sisters Fire page for information about that closure, and a combination bus/walking alternate that skips both of these fire closures.


Closure map

Agency detour map


Alternate suggestion

Sorry, we recommend shuttling around the closure. We looked into dirt roads to walk around the closure and couldn’t find any reasonable options. The highways are largely shoulderless and we don’t recommend walking them.

Spruce Lake Fire in Crater Lake National Park

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August 16th, 2017

Major portions of the official Pacific Crest Trail are closed in Crater Lake National Park.  However, the West Rim Road and the Rim Trail are open.

Immediately to the south is the Blanket Creek Fire.

The PCT remains open from North Rim Road, northward out of the park. It is closed everywhere else in the Park.

If you’re a hiker that still wants to hike through, there aren’t any good options. Smoke is thick in the park. You may want to avoid the area even if it’s open. Check out our satellite images. 




Blanket Creek is the southern fire. Spruce Lake is the northern fire.


Blanket Creek Fire in Sky Lakes Wilderness and Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

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August 16th, 2017

The Blanket Creek Fire is burning west of the Pacific Crest Trail in Sky Lakes Wilderness and the southern part of Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. The Spruce Lake Fire is burning just to the north. Together, now called the High Cascades Complex, they have closed much of the PCT in Crater Lake National Park.

In short, the only section of PCT open in the park is from North Entrance Road to Highway 138. That’s the northern part of the park. But the Rim Trail recently reopened, and that’s the most popular route around the lake.

We are told that signs have been posted at the southern end of this closure at the junction of the PCT and the Sevenmile Marsh Trail and that that would be the easiest and last place to bail off the PCT before the National Park.




Blanket Creek Fire is the southern one. Spruce Lake fire is the northern one.


Norse Peak Fires near Mt. Rainier, Washington

August 14th, 2017

A lightning storm on August 11, 2017 ignited 13 fires within the Naches Ranger District of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington.  Ten of the fires are in the William O. Douglas and Norse Peak Wildernesses. Some of them have been contained.

At this point, it appears that the most significant fire is burning about 3.5 miles east of the PCT from about Crown Point (mile 2328) to about mile 2332. The fire is downhill from the PCT in the Union Creek and North Fork of Union Creek drainages.

The Pacific Crest Trail is not closed at the time of writing, but we recommend monitoring conditions closely. We’re really just starting to learn about the big fire in Union Creek and we don’t know much about the other fires. We hear that the fire in Union Creek is growing quickly!



Indian Creek Fire in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

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August 8th, 2017

The upper Eagle Creek Trail and other trails are closed due to the Indian Creek Fire. The official PCT remains open but the Indian Springs Campground (mile 2125) and the Wahtum Lake Campground (mile 2128) along the PCT are closed to camping. Water will still be available at the Indian Springs Campground.

Camping update from August 14, 2017

Download a PDF version of the document below.




Closure due to logging in southern Washington

July 21st, 2017

Starting July 25, 2017, due to logging activity northwest of Table Mountain, a portion of the PCT will be inaccessible 10 miles north of Bridge of the Gods. Signs at and along the alternate route will direct you along the bypass logging road and back to the PCT for approximately 3.1 miles. The distance bypassed on the PCT is 2 miles.

Right now, we don’t know when the closure will be lifted.

This sign is posted at the Bridge of the Gods

Photo by: Nathaniel Middleton