How do you use forest roads?

Some people bike forest roads, others walk or horseback ride and many enjoy driving down forest roads to take in new sights. How do you use forest roads? We’re also curious how you access them — by passenger vehicle? 4x4s and jeeps? Let us know.


41 responses to “How do you use forest roads?

  1. I enjoy driving on the forest service roads!!!!!Truck and 4×4. And my opinion is that if roads are decommissioned they would be Of a great acquisition for the motorized recreation group They can be made to be for Hi-clearance vehicles only!!!!!!! Some of us users are not able to hike/ mountain bike/ horse ride Due to Old age /disabilities and Bad health…But that does not mean that we have given up on loving the outdoors and camping in the forests!!!!!!

  2. As a somewhat disabled older person I rely on the roads to get me places I could not hike to. I can hike a short way but I would never get out of the flat lands if I could not drive to higher points. I am so upset about the closure of the upper end of Middle Fork Snoqualmie road. It is the only way I can get to an area to access the Wilderness. The Alpine lakes is such a great place, everyone should be able to enjoy at least a little piece of it, even if they are disabled. Why should only the fit be able to access? I would even pay a toll if I had to, to maintain the road.

    • I have been to all the places you mentioned many times. Now I am older and have an RV. Does that mean I should be kept out of my favorite places. Evan did a little skinny dipping a couple of years ago.

  3. I use the roads to go exploring in my 4×4. I just moved to WA from CA and having access to the forest service roads is amazing. I spend a lot of time looking at maps and trying to find information about where I should go next to explore.

  4. I use the roads in a passenger vehicle like a mini-van to access trailheads and rock climbing areas. I believe we need a mix of areas – some easily accessible via road, other requiring 0.25 to 1+ days of hiking to access.

  5. I am 56 years old and have recently discovered the joy of mountain biking. With the ever increasing population growth in Western Washington, my personal belief is that when I was growing up here, access to wilderness in the development of roads in the Cascades was all well and fine because the impact of humanity was at a level that didn’t seem to threaten the very thing that everyone loved. That is completely changed now and the stampede on summer weekends to enjoy the outdoors is rapidly taking a toll. For example, SR 26 (Suiattle River Road) was closed at milepost 12 ten years ago due to washouts. Beyond the closure point was the Buck, Downey and Sulpher Creek campgrounds. I dearly love to park my vehicle at the closure point and take a wonderfully leisure peddle into the Buck Creek campground which now is an amazing place due to the simple lack of it’s accessibility. In the day and age we live in, it is the hordes of humanity who believe they simply have a right to have access to places like this that threaten them the most. Our local ancestors didn’t have that luxury. If we wish to keep pristine places pristine, there needs to be an element of effort required in getting access to them. In the summer of 2014 there are currently plans to close the Suiattle RIver Road at milepost 6 to repair the road into these campsites and will reopen a year later which result in these places becoming sites just as one would find all along the Mountain Loop Highway, will require camping fees and reservations. In my opinion, this will be a very sad event. To use a mountain bile to gain access is a wonderful form of recreation and exercise and will keep this area as beautiful as it is now for future generations.

    • You have it all wrong the answer is more campsites not less, close up camps and roads you jamb everybody into small area’s of huge forests and then we are over crowded. All you have to do is go to a national park and all the people are crowded together. I went to Glacier National Park last year and felt like I was being watched every minute by volunteers and rangers. Good god I left my coffee cup on the picnic table and had it confiscated to a steel box and was left a nasty note that I could be ticketed. If the people weren’t kept in huge groups in small spaces they wouldn’t have to treat people bad. Millions and millions of acres of land and a couple of parks and ONE road.

    • Jon, the ‘hordes of humanity’ as you put it are really your fellow citizens, who have the same right to access the national forest as you do. What will happen one day when you can’t ride a bicycle, due to age or other infirmity? Our ‘local ancestors’ used to go anywhere they wanted in areas that are now closed to all but the very young and fit or the wealthy (who own or hire horses with guides). Yes, I’d selfishly like to close ALL of the National Forest so that only I could access it (for a day!), but my fellow citizens have as much right as I do. Quit being a snobby elitist, and be willing to share.

  6. I am 63 years old and have lived in Western Washington for 37 years. My dad’s side of the family has lived in Washington for generations. I primarily use FS roads to access trailheads for hiking, backpacking, scrambling, and climbing. I have been a Mountaineer scramble, climb, snowshoe, and navigation leader and/or instructor for twenty-plus years and am using FS roads (usually in conjunction with car-pooling) almost every weekend. In general, roads that have been open for previous generations should be re-opened, where feasible. Needless to say, the population of back-country users has doubled and re-doubled in my lifetime, and some consideration should be given to limiting the impact of this added human pressure. But this should not be handled by simply leaving roads closed to vehicles, but should instead be handled with a flexible system of reservations, permits, fees, distribution of uses (setting some roads aside for human-powered activities, some for high-clearance vehicles, some for horse/llama access, and so on, with the emphasis on the broadest mix of activities compatible with the fragility of the local environment and with the responsibility demonstrated by the user community — roads used for illegal dumping/trashing/theft/vandalism/shooting etc. should be slated for higher-intensity law enforcement patrols (and this is what rangers should do with their patrol time, rather than the drive-by ticketing that they now waste their time on, and only then for potential closure if a combination of ranger/user community pressure cannot reverse the trend. Even roads that are closed for low-clearance vehicles should be considered for maintenance for high-clearance vehicles, particularly in the case of the disabled community. In general, therefore, maintain the traditional access roads for access of some kind, even if inevitable population pressures may suggest limiting access in some other sensitive way.

    • I agree completely. I know keeping the roads open takes money. I would have no problem paying more to access sensitive areas with a reservation system. You could restrict the types of vehicles used and the alternating use days is a great idea!

  7. Stevie definitely has the right idea. If overpopulation of areas is a problem use a permit/reservation system instead of destroying roads. There could even be a “bicycle sunday” for some roads like the Suiattle, where its mountain bikes or walk for a bit of time. Both permits and temporary use changes will solve issues without destroying our public road assets.

  8. We drive on Forest Service roads at least once a month for recreation. Some of the most beautiful scenery in Washington is viewable from these roads. I remember driving on the Suiattle river Road before it washed out, it was a gorgeous drive. Many of us aren’t able to hike or bike but we still enjoy getting out and seeing the countryside and getting away from it all, even if it’s from the inside of a motor vehicle. Please don’t take this supreme pleasure away from us!

    Don’t waste our limited resources decommissioning these roads! Nature will do that for you, just leave them alone. We’ve driven on many roads that were impassible on a return visit. We’ve seen many, many abandoned roads that, unless you spot the flat area of former roadbed, are indistinguishable from the rest of the forest.

    I already pay to use these roads with my Discover Pass. Don’t use My money to take this recreation away from me!

  9. I use the Mountain Loop Highway to access the main trails like the Ice Caves, Heather Lake, and Lake 22. I generally stay off of the unpaved forest roads.

  10. I use forest roads to access trailheads and campsites, for hiking, scrambling, climbing, exploring. I agree with others that I see the use of these resources increasing, which overall is a good thing: getting more folks active and enjoying/becoming advocates for the environment. Adding on the ever-burgeoning population of the area, and there are sure to be impacts. We already have the NW Forest Pass, and perhaps that could be increased to all areas in the Forest. Hopefully this might allow for additional revenue to support maintenance better than has been done. We need more resources, not less; ie. destroying roads is not the solution.

  11. We mostly drive down forest roads in a 4WD Jeep to access high country summits for hiking and climbing. As a formerly disabled person who has actually regained ability and has just now become able to hike and scramble, I have been extremely dismayed to find road after road shutting down in the last two years due to lack of road funding.

    Forest road hiking is not a goal in itself for me, nor do I think most people, even families out for gentle hikes, find that all that enjoyable; I personally want to get into the high country and climb to the rocky summits. I am finding that less and less are now available without committing whole weeks to hiking in, which I just don’t have, nor do many others, except people with lots of money and time on their hands. It’s effectively actually making the back country available only to the moneyed, which sucks. Even if many or most people aren’t interested in difficult hikes, scrambling or climbing, there are plenty of gentle trails and portions of the hikes to lakes and passes and such that are at the ends of these roads that families could and should access to cut down on the concentration of people in the overused areas.

    Stop with the expensive road “decommissioning” projects, it costs far too much money and makes the former roads far, far less easy to hike or bike down to make it to the real backcountry. If you must shut the road down, leave it for nature to take back over, it doesn’t need to be artificially filled with obstacles to re-naturalize. People and animals will start taking the paths of least resistance through the re-growth, and start maintaining them into workable trails just fine without making them unnecessarily long and possibly injurious by winding them through and over artificially planted rocks and boulders and berms and such.

    I agree that we probably need to prioritize maintenance of roads that don’t constantly wash out, but there are a few that would be an extreme shame to not re-open due to the loss of access to huge swaths of amazing backcountry. The most important one that I can think of is, of course, Glacier Creek Road, as access to that side of Mt. Baker has been completely lost without backpacking in. Heliotrope Ridge is an amazing place that both hikers and climbers should have access to without taking away the chance for a day trip or adding several days to their climb. I know the Coleman Glacier Route was one of the most (if not the) popular routes up Baker, and would like the chance to try it, when I’m ready.

  12. I have been a hiker all of my life and wish to continue enjoying the outdoors surrounding my home next to the national forest lands. I vary the trails I use from rockport area to granite falls. I have children employed as a forest ranger , and two are forest fire fighters. They struggle with the lack of accessibility of the lands they protect for us to live with. Please keep them safe – !

  13. I think all the open roads are important. We have a passenger truck or minivan we use to access hiking trails, picnic, camp, gather mushrooms and berries and gather fire wood with permit.

  14. Viewing wildlife and trees is one of my favorite passtimes. I walk weekly in the mountain loop area 9 months out of the year. I live near “18” and my husband and I travel it monthly for our day trips. We pack it in and OUT as well as other’s carelessness to help preserve our area! KEEP THEM OPEN!

  15. We use the roads for hunting, and for just being in the woods. We also do use safe gravel pits for target practice. It really makes us upset and sad to see the garbage left in the woods. We were always taught as children to leave the woods in better shape than we found them. We always pack our garbage out, and as much of others garbage as we can. We are very responsible hunters and shooters and use extreme caution.To think that our grandchildren may not be able to hunt, hike, shoot, as we have is just wrong. If things keep going the direction they ate going now only the wealthy will be able to hunt and enjoy the woods.

  16. I use the the forest roads to access trails for hiking into the high country for camping, fishing and photography. I use our forest roads for access to areas for hunting and I use them for bike riding.
    I believe these areas are far too important to just shut down so they can’t be enjoyed. For most people these areas become unreachable if their isn’t access to a trailhead. The Suiattle River road has become unreachable for the average person and there are so many areas to enjoy . It is enjoyabel for families to just camp there.

  17. I use the forest roads to access hiking, climbing, and such. I use my car when it is possible but when not possible i use a mtn bike. i am a firm believer that many forest roads should be closed, but only the ones that receive VERY little traffic. Too many people use roads like 2060, bedal creek, and dozens of others to access our lands. If you do close them, you will still need to maintain a trail system to allow access.

  18. I agree with the woman who mentioned tolls to help maintain. If it means the difference between accessing our most precious areas, I am all for it. As for our sadly limited funding this year, I’d vote for Heliotrope and Canyon Creek Roads above all else. Many people would love to use these roads throughout the year again!

  19. Forest Roads in Snoqualmie and Mt. Baker National Forests (now combined) have been and are very much used by myself and family to access areas where trails to picturesque views are enjoyed, winter and summer sports are passed onto my family’s next generation which includes hunting and fishing! (for over 90 years) With out the use of these roads much of the beauty of our Evergreen State is not or would be unattainable to see and enjoy!

  20. My family and I enjoy hiking and photography. We especially enjoy grand vistas and the sounds of nature away from motors. Some of the places we hike are reached long gravel roads, and we would hate not to have access too them without a specialized vehicle.

  21. I hunt and camp with my family in the Mt Baker National forest. I would love to see Canyon Creek rd open again.

  22. FS74 was a beautiful paved scenic road that was easily accessible and enjoyable by many, without 4WD. It should be reopened.

  23. I use forest roads solely to approach my destination when in my passenger vehicle. I prefer to stop driving sooner rather than later, and would prefer that most forest roads be decommissioned and longer trunk roads shortened. The fun begins where the road ends. I enjoy walking, biking, and x-c skiing on closed roads and roads otherwise converted to non-motorized trails.

  24. Let it return to its natural state. Man has done more than enough damage to nature and the environment. The earth needs to heal. Leave it alone and stop ravaging every square inch that a foot can be set upon.

  25. I travel and explore the roads on a quiet adventure motorcycle and in an SUV when exploring with my family. This forest is one of the main reasons I love the NW! Please keep public access open and even consider expanding/opening some of the older closed roads to those that can utilize them. Thanks for the discussion!

  26. I have been hiking and biking since 1992, and still love to push my limits once I am able to access the trails from the open FS roads. I do enjoy biking on the forest service roads, but we all only have so much time and energy once we get to the forest. Day hikes/trips require the ability to get to the trail head w/ a vehicle. Often I wish I could stay longer and hike farther. I am 44. Most pristine places are very hard to get to. Please keep roads open that access the alpine lakes/hiking/biking trails. I am looking forward to exploring the Glacier Peak region next summer.

  27. I used to hike and used forest roads for trail access. Now I jeep the roads with family and friends. As when I hiked I often carried out more trash than I took in, same as now we carry out trash someone left. Hike, ride, and wheel responsibly, stay on the trail, tread lightly and pack out what you pack in.

  28. I use the service roads to access trails for hiking, climbing and camping with my young children. As a mountain rescuer they often provide access to remote places that also assist to getting to trailheads different than subjects may have used. I use a passenger vehicle. Thanks for the effort of maintaing the roads!

  29. Leave all roads that are to be decommissioned open to ALL ORV type of recreation. I’m disabled and this is how I like to spend my time riding my UTV. The greenies always get their way because of the money that funds their stupid lawsuits against things like this.

    • It is offensive to suggest that anybody seeking to decommission or close roads is a “greenie”. I do not donate to “green” groups and I also do not donate to “resource” groups. In my view, anybody seeking to use expensive infrastructure such as forest roads should have to pay for it. In the case of urban infrastructure, everybody uses it in some way either directly or as a result of freight and commerce that they are somehow connected to. In the case of crumbling forest service roads that cater to ORV users, most people do not receive any value directly or indirectly from this infrastructure. ORV users being able to use the roads or not will not affect me in any way other than by forcing me to pay more tax dollars to maintain these roads if they are kept open. So, I am glad that people enjoy these roads, but if they are worth keeping open then they should be funded by users, not by everybody else. If people are willing to pay some fee ($20-$30 per day sounds about right) to use these roads so that they are funded by users, then I say have at it. But it is un-American to assume that everybody else should support the HOBBY of a small group of people.

  30. Escaping to the wilderness is one of my lifetime favorite things to do. I don’t believe a budgetary crisis negates responsible people from going out & enjoying the wilderness. I believe it’s a violation of our freedom, & don’t believe it truely costs an astronomical expense to patrol. I think it’s just another liberty they are trying to rob from us who like to drive around the woods.

    • I agree wholeheartedly with James mason. It is our Constitutional Right as citizens of this alleged ‘democracy’ to enjoy our public lands! The Founding Fathers, who had the foresight to create these preserves….need future generations (read: US!) would roll over in their respective graves were they to witness the neglect of this important Right! Because you’ve created an imaginary ‘bubble’ of financial security, this bubble will burst—then let the floodwaters flow! I believe MOST Americans are fed up w/the MISmanagement of this once-great country & its natural beauty…

  31. I’d like to see more access, not less. As others have said, user fees can help. One change I’d like to see is to open forest roads to utility ATVs and SxS utility OHVs, with a permit (make it $50/year). Set a reasonable maximum speed limit (30 mph), and use the money to help maintain roads for all users. And, enlist these people to help patrol the forest roads in the spring to remove fallen trees and report on issues… saves money, gets the job done, and creates a community that enforces the rules. We don’t have to open all forest roads to OHVs, but certainly a few roads off of I-90 and Hwy 2 would open up opportunities for additional revenues and additional users. And who knows, they might start hiking once they’ve parked their OHV at a trailhead.

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