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Gifford Pinchot National Forest



Cowlitz Valley Ranger District- Covering the northern portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District offers hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, motorcycle riding, wildlife viewing, and fishing.
Glacier View Wilderness- The 3,000-acre Glacier View Wilderness is located on the west boundary of Mt. Rainier National Park within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Activities include hiking and horseback riding.
Goat Rocks Wilderness- Goat Rocks Wilderness is located in southwestern Washington between Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. Recreation here includes hiking, camping, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, mountain biking, and motorcycle riding.
Indian Heaven Wilderness- Located in the south central portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Indian Heaven Wilderness offers hiking, horseback riding, camping, and backpacking.
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument- The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Ranger District covers the middle to western portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and offers hiking, biking, camping, backpacking, climbing, fishing, motorcycle riding, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.
Mt. Adams Ranger District- The Mount Adams Ranger District covers the southern portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and offers hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, and cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling in the winter.
Mt. Adams Wilderness- Bounded on the east by the Yakima Indian Reservation and along the west slope of Mt. Adams lies the 47,280-acre Mt. Adams Wilderness. Activities here include camping, hiking, backpacking and horseback riding.
Tatoosh Wilderness- The 15,700-acre Tatoosh Wilderness is bounded on the north by Mount Rainier National Park. Recreation includes hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.
Trapper Creek Wilderness- Trapper Creek Wilderness consists of 6,050 acres of diverse habitat located in the central portion of the Wind River Ranger District in the southern Cascades of Washington. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, and backpacking.
William O. Douglas Wilderness- The William O. Douglas Wilderness includes 166,000 acres located between the White Pass and Chinook Pass highways.

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Gifford Pinchot National Forest
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General Information

Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Description - The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is one of the oldest National Forests in the United States. The Forest encompasses 1,372,000 acres and includes the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument established by congress in 1982.

The Gifford Pinchot has a number of areas of special interest. The Dark Divide Roadless Area is an area of rock outcroppings and alpine vegetation where you can enjoy panoramic views of snowcapped mountains in four directions. The area can be explored via Boundary Trail #1.

Mount St. Helens is an active volcano in southwest Washington and is the central feature of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Numerous viewpoints and miles of trails have been created for you to explore by car and foot. During the summer Forest Interpreters lead a wide range of activities, from short walks to amphitheater presentations, to help you understand and enjoy this area. Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginning and experienced mountaineers. Most climbers use the Monitor Ridge route from Climbers Bivouac. This route gains 4,500 feet in 5 miles to the crater rim at 8,365 feet elevation. Permits are required above 4,800 feet year-round.

Silver Star Mountain, at 4,390 feet, is the focus of a scenic, high-elevation ridge top. Bluff Mountain Trail #172 traverses the open ridge top from Silver Star east to Little Baldy.

Centuries-old eruptions of pumice and lava from Mount St. Helens created numerous geologic attractions on its south flank. Lava tubes and caves, formed in the cooling lava, range from thousands of feet in length to small bubble like chambers. Most are located on the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument or the Mt. Adams Ranger District.

The Midway High Lakes are five high-elevation lakes which lie within a 7-mile radius of each other. There are developed campgrounds and each lake provides fishing and limited boating. The area has access to nearby recreation trails to the Mt. Adams Wilderness. There are spectacular views of Mt. Adams from some of the lakes.

The Big Lava Bed is an unusual lava field which originated from a crater, now 500 feet deep. Lodgepole pine, alder, and other pioneer plants struggle to survive amid towering rock piles, caves, and odd lava formations that fascinate hardy explorers and sightseers. No trails or roads cross the lava field, generally limiting exploration to the perimeter.

Located east of the community of Packwood, 462-acre Packwood Lake can be reached by an easy 4-mile hike. Situated adjacent to the Goat Rocks Wilderness, it provides an excellent view of Johnson Peak. There is also good trail access into the Wilderness. Fishing can be good in late spring.

The Wind River Canopy Crane is a unique research facility designed to provide scientists with access to the entire three-dimensional space of forest canopies. Constructed in 1995 it is one of only three canopy cranes in the world. Groups that would like a canopy crane interpretive walk need to call (509) 427-3349.

Leave your motorized vehicle behind and bring your walking shoes, bicycle, or horse to explore the Lone Butte Wildlife Emphasis Area. The LBWEA encompasses 12,450 acres of distinctive habitats. Bring binoculars, field guides, food and water, and enjoy this intriguing area.

The abundant rain and snowfall in the western Cascades feed an extensive river system on this Forest. The Cispus River, the Lewis River, and the Clear Fork and Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz river have been recommended as additions to the Wild and Scenic River system. Thirteen
additional rivers are being studied as potential Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Attractions - The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is one of the oldest National Forests in the United States. The Forest encompasses 1,372,000 acres and includes the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument established by congress in 1982.

The Gifford Pinchot has a number of areas of special interest. The Dark Divide Roadless Area is an area of rock outcroppings and alpine vegetation where you can enjoy panoramic views of snowcapped mountains in four directions. The area can be explored via Boundary Trail #1.

Mount St. Helens is an active volcano in southwest Washington and is the central feature of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Numerous viewpoints and miles of trails have been created for you to explore by car and foot. During the summer Forest Interpreters lead a wide range of activities, from short walks to amphitheater presentations, to help you understand and enjoy this area. Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginning and experienced mountaineers. Most climbers use the Monitor Ridge route from Climbers Bivouac. This route gains 4,500 feet in 5 miles to the crater rim at 8,365 feet elevation. Permits are required above 4,800 feet year-round.

Silver Star Mountain, at 4,390 feet, is the focus of a scenic, high-elevation ridgetop. Bluff Mountain Trail #172 traverses the open ridgetop from Silver Star east to Little Baldy.

Centuries-old eruptions of pumice and lava from Mount St. Helens created numerous geologic attractions on its south flank. Lava tubes and caves, formed in the cooling lava, range from thousands of feet in length to small bubble like chambers. Most are located on the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument or the Mt. Adams Ranger District.

The Midway High Lakes are five high-elevation lakes which lie within a 7-mile radius of each other. There are developed campgrounds and each lake provides fishing and limited boating. The area has access to nearby recreation trails to the Mt. Adams Wilderness. There are spectacular views of Mt. Adams from some of the lakes.

The Big Lava Bed is an unusual lava field which originated from a crater, now 500 feet deep. Lodgepole pine, alder, and other pioneer plants struggle to survive amid towering rock piles, caves, and odd lava formations that fascinate hardy explorers and sightseers. No trails or roads cross the lava field, generally limiting exploration to the perimeter.

Located east of the community of Packwood, 462-acre Packwood Lake can be reached by an easy 4-mile hike. Situated adjacent to the Goat Rocks Wilderness, it provides an excellent view of Johnson Peak. There is also good trail access into the Wilderness. Fishing can be good in late spring.

The Wind River Canopy Crane is a unique research facility designed to provide scientists with access to the entire three-dimensional space of forest canopies. Constructed in 1995 it is one of only three canopy cranes in the world. Groups that would like a canopy crane interpretive walk need to call (509) 427-3349

Leave your motorized vehicle behind and bring your walking shoes, bicycle, or horse to explore the Lone Butte Wildlife Emphasis Area. The LBWEA encompasses 12,450 acres of distinctive habitats. Bring binoculars, field guides, food and water, and enjoy this intriguing area.

The abundant rain and snowfall in the western Cascades feed an extensive river system on this Forest. The Cispus River, the Lewis River, and the Clear Fork and Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River have been recommended as additions to the Wild and Scenic River system. Thirteen additional rivers are being studied as potential Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Recreation - Some of the many recreation opportunities on the Gifford Pinchot include hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, ATVing, camping, boating, fishing, cross-country skiing and sightseeing.

The Forest contains numerous campgrounds and picnic areas. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest Visitor Map includes a list of facilities and activities available at each location. Camp spots can be either reservation or first-come, first-served basis. Several "horse camps" are all located on or near horse trails. Dispersed Camping is permitted throughout most of the Forest.

The Gifford Pinchot offers over 1,100 miles of trail at varying difficulty. Most trails are located in upper-elevation forest and alpine areas. Some trails lead to the many waterfalls on the Forest. Over 300 miles of trail are located within the wildernesses. Approximately 150 miles of new trails are constructed to barrier-free standard, which also includes several levels of difficulty. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail also crosses this National Forest.

Many trails on the Forest are open to mountain bikers. Although some are excellent riding trails, there are many that mountain bike riders would not choose to use.

The Gifford Pinchot is an excellent place for canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and other forms of boating. The abundant precipitation in the area feeds an extensive river system.

Climate - Climate on the Gifford Pinchot changes drastically with elevation. The area receives a high amount of precipitation. Much of the precipitation comes from October to April in the form of rain at the low elevations and as wet heavy snow in the higher elevations. Deep winter snowpacks accumulate in the high elevations.

Although snow is possible in the lowest elevations, it is infrequent. Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days with moderate temperatures.

Location - The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located in southwest Washington State. It lies between Mount Rainier National Park and the Columbia River Gorge, and includes the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The Gifford Pinchot is headquartered in Vancouver, Washington.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Diane (Portland, OR)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I visited Silver Star for the first time on Saturday am 7/12/03. Our trek from the parking lot up to the first ridge was a little steep but a nice trail. When we came to the first "y" we could see Mt St Helens, Adams, and Rainier....beautiful! Our guide pointed out Silver Star off in the distance and away we went. We chose to go on the trail to the left over the hills rather than up the rocky trail. The views were awesome and the wildflowers in bloom were fantastic. As we neared the peak closest to Silver Star we came through what appeared to be a man-made passage through the rocks. This trail was a little spooky, thin and on the edge. The last part took us climbing up a small rock wall...not bad really..small ledges and you definately don't want to fall. At the top was a ledge of rocks to hang out on and we could see Mt Hood now too. Our guide pointed out Mt Baldy(?) and some other trails that were much longer. This trail was just right for as a moderate hike. I think we reached about 4000 ft elevation. When we left the rocks we continued around and met up with the other rocky trail to take us down the sw side. We never summited Silver Star because one of us was ready to head down so next time... The trail down was easier although I didn't like the rocks. The views spectacular and we could actually see the high rise buildings in downtown PDX. Great hike, great views! I highly recommend Silver Star. We didn't rush, stopped alot to breath, look at flowes, etc...about a 3 hour round trip not including our picnic/rest on the rocks.


More Information

Contact Information:
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, 10600 NE 51st Circle, P.O. Box 8944 , Vancouver, WA, 98682, Phone: 360-891-5000, Fax: 360-891-5045, TTY: 360-891-5003

Additional Information:
Seattle Area/Volcano Country - This is Volcano Country, home of three volcanoes and a gorge, all in remarkably close proximity to urban centers, from Portland to Puget Sound. This region includes the Seattle and Tacoma metropolitan areas as well as Vancouver, Washington.
Washington National Forests and Parks - Washington has an abundance of National Forests. There are six national forests within the state.

Links:
Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Official agency website.

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