Description - Norse Peak Wilderness hosts both forested slopes and exposed volcanic peaks. Topography is generally high and steep with rocky terrain at the high elevations, narrow valleys, mountain lakes, and open park-like basins. Because this wilderness straddles the crest of the Cascades it has both eastside and west side species. Vegetation includes Douglas-fir, true firs, western and mountain hemlock, ponderosa and white pine, Englemann spruce, as well as some lodgepole
pine, larch, and Alaska and red cedar.
- Much of the Norse Peak Wilderness area was heavily grazed by permitted sheep bands through the 1940s. Some deposits of placer gold at the heads of Morse and Crow Creek were of interest to miners but due the small amount only recreationists now seek this opportunity. Because of the small number of lakes in the area those present tend to be overused.
A 23 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail traverses the Wilderness. Other popular trails include the Noble Knob Trail, the Norse Peak Trail and the Greenwater Trail.
Recreation - The recreational opportunities are plentiful within the Norse Peak Wilderness. Hiking, backpacking, dispersed camping, fishing, horseback riding, and mountain climbing activities are numerous.
Climate - Climate in the Norse Peak Wilderness Area 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 less frequent. Most years the Wilderness is still buried under 10-20 feet of snow in May. Usually most trails and passes are snow free by mid-August, but this varies from year to year.
Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days with moderate temperatures. Snow and cold rain can occur in midsummer.
Norse Peak Wilderness encompasses 51,000 acres and is located along the
Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail north of Chinook Pass (on Highway 410) and east of Mt. Rainier National Park. The Wilderness is located within the White River Ranger District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The Wilderness can be accessed off of Hwy. 410 and off of Forest Roads #70, #7174 and #33.