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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Great news for Alpine Lakes Wilderness additions!


We are happy to announce that the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers bill unanimously passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in early November 2011. Championed by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA 08), this bill adds 22,000 acres adjacent to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness as well as Wild and Scenic River protection to almost 30 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and 10 miles of the Pratt River. Washington Wild is part of the coalition of conservation and recreation groups that, along with local activists, have been promoting this Wilderness and rivers proposal to increase protection on the breathtaking forests and rivers.

Want to see the impressive land for yourself? Finding a hike is easy to do! Just east of North Bend, along I-90, this world-class hiking destination is a short trip for Seattle residents. These wild forests and free-flowing rivers offer visitors much in terms of recreation and aesthetic values. Marvel at the lush green forest and beautiful alpine lakes, an abundance of diverse trees cover the landscape; wet forests of old growth Douglas fir, cedar and western hemlock thick with moss are just some of the attractions. The pristine low-elevation old growth forests provide habitat for an array of animals. The Middle Fork Snoqualmie offers adventures for rafters and kayakers and holds a bounty of native cutthroat trout for fishermen.

Hiking Ideas:

Close to I-90, the following trails are popular and accessible. Most of these trails start off outside the proposed Wilderness Additions but quickly enter the proposal, ending at their destinations in the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.

- Talapus Lake Snowshoe (#1039)

- Island Lake – Rainbow Lake (#1009)

- Granite Mountain Snowshoe (#1016)

- Ira Spring Trail – Mason Lake (#1038)

A bit further of a drive, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie trail and the Pratt River Connector Trail (#1035) offer magnificent experiences. The Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail is just outside of the Wilderness proposal but entirely within the Wild and Scenic River corridor and offers stunning views.

Remember to plan accordingly for your hike! Make sure to bring extra water, proper supplies and check the weather before you leave.

Sarah Gruen is one of Washington Wild's wild lands interns. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in geography in 2010. Sarah can be reached at

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wildlands Report: Snow Peak Trail

Much thanks to volunteer Aaron Theisen for writing this post! Aaron resides in the Columbia Highlands region in the northeastern portion of our beautiful state.

Washington Wild welcomes people to create “Wildland Reports” that chronicle their experiences in National Forests, Roadless Areas, and Wilderness. Find out more information here.

Wildland Report: Snow Peak Trail

Bald-Snow Roadless Area, Colville National Forest

Snow Peak Trail #10 offers a short, but steep, entry into the Colville National Forest’s Bald-Snow Roadless Area, where one can witness the remarkable regeneration of the terrain from the White Mountain Fire, which in 1988 burned over 20,000 acres of forest. Plenty of sunlight and fertile, fire-rejuvenated soil mean a feast of flowers.

The trail begins among scattered old-growth Douglas-fir and Ponderosa pine that escaped the wildfire. Massive spikes of purple lupine grace the open understory. After several quick switchbacks, the route arcs around the southern face of a ridge that juts out from the Kettle Crest.

Although the trail occasionally tunnels through thick stands of Douglas fir and Scouler’s willow, most of the way passes through open forest. To the south stands the pyramidal peak of Bald Mountain, but the dazzling array of wildflowers– buckwheat, lupine, aster, yarrow, paintbrush, hawkweed and others–will likely keep your attention focused on the foreground.

After nearly two miles, the trail gains the ridge, and young trees begin to close ranks among huge hunks of ancient granite. A few minutes of rollercoaster hiking brings you to the intersection with the Kettle Crest Trail, 2.7 steep miles from the trailhead. Ahead lies the steep western flank of Snow Peak, the second-highest peak in the Kettle Range and a wintertime destination for backcountry skiers. To the north and south stand the other peaks of the Kettle Range and 45 miles of world-class wilderness hiking.

Although the Forest Service recommended part of Bald-Snow Roadless Area for Wilderness status in its draft forest plan, the agency left the entire northern half of the roadless area, including Snow Peak itself and the area traversed by Snow Peak Trail, outside the recommended Wilderness boundary. It’d be a shame to leave this beautiful hike and beautiful mountain unprotected.

Driving directions: From Republic, travel east on Highway 20 6.9 miles to Hall Creek Road 99. Follow Hall Creek Road 3.3 miles to Road 100. Turn left on Road 100 and drive 3.5 miles to the trailhead on the right side of the road.