Monday, December 1, 2008

Staircase Open to hikers this winter

Routemap to Staircase Ranger Station

Some good news. Staircase road is closed as usual this winter but it is only closed to cars this time. Hikers are allowed to walk on the road now. This opens up some new hiking and geocaching opportunities for me. I used to do most of my winter hiking at Staircase but after the fire on Mount Rose they started closing the road to both cars and hikers every winter. With the past road closure about a dozen of my geocaches are unreachable every winter.

I’m going to look at my topo maps and start making plans for winter hiking at Staircase now. 1.4 miles to the Mount Rose trailhead so Mount Rose will be in reach until the snow gets too deep.

Route to the Mount Rose Trailhead

5.5 miles to the Staircase campground so this could be a road hike very much like to road hike into the Dosewallips campground. The advantage is this will be closer to home for me and I'll have lake Cushman on one side the entire way instead of the Dossewalips River. You really can't see the Dosewallips river for very much of the way.

Route to the Staircase Ranger Station

The WTA has changed the system for posting trip reports and I don't get it. I can't post about trails that are not in a drop down menu but have to ask for them to be added. My first attempt at logging on I lost my password and now can't use my preferred name. I'm not liking this new system and I just might be done posting my trip reports there. I figure the WTA will start spamming me too now that they require me to give them my email address. The advantage of this new system is supposed to be that trip reports are posted right away but I'm not having any luck getting my trip report for South Mountian posted. South Mountain is not on their list, maybe it will not be allowed because it is a road walk but it is listed in a local book of winter hikes in the Puget Sound.

With the new system my direct link to the newest trip reports for the Olympics has been broken but I'm working on fixing it.


Olympia, Wash -- Due to safety concerns for Olympic National Forest visitors, Forest Service Road 24 is scheduled to close to all motorized vehicle access beginning October 31st . The road is the main access point for the Staircase area of Olympic National Park.

The gated closure, located just beyond the Mt. Rose subdivision, began as a precaution following the 2006 Bear Gulch II fire which burned approximately 1200 acres directly above the road. This safety measure is necessary to prevent injury to the public from rock and debris slides expected throughout the rainy winter season.

“This road has proven to be a dangerous place in the winter,” said Dean Yoshina, District Ranger for the Hood Canal District of the Olympic National Forest. “Although we have lifted the restriction on foot traffic that was in place for last year’s closure, we ask that visitors remain aware of weather conditions and stay clear when the potential exists for heavy storms.”

Due to the steep topography, this section of road sometimes experiences debris and rock slides during the winter months, requiring routine cleanup and maintenance. However, the fire increased the amount of debris significantly, as storms from last winter caused so much debris to cover the road that repairs took until the end of June to complete.

An assessment team will continue to evaluate conditions, monitor slope stability and track debris accumulations to determine the level of winter access in the future.

The Forest Service will announce a scheduled opening date in the spring when risk levels return to normal and debris removal and maintenance can begin.

For updated road conditions throughout the forest, visit the Olympic National Forest website at

MT. ROSE Trail #814 OPEN 2.9 miles to summit via summit route, 6.4 round trip mileage. 800’-4,300’ Trail is in the Mt. Skokomish Wilderness. Peek-a-boo views of Lake Cushman, Prospect Ridge, Dow Mountain and Lightning Peak may be seen on ascent. Trail travels through quiet, old growth forest, and from ridge loop trail, views of Bear Gulch Valley, Mt. Ellinor, Mt. Washington, Mt. Pershing, and the distant Huckleberry drainage may be seen.
Conditions: Road to the trailhead closed 10/31/08, trailhead will be accessible by foot only. The Mt. Rose Trail crosses an area burned in 2006 by the Bear Gulch 2 Fire. Snags and partially burnt trees exist along the trail. Use extreme caution in this area, and avoid use during windy or rainy conditions. The fire burnt heavily over the trail at the top of the summit route and the trail may be difficult to follow for 1/4 mile.
Remarks: Route to the right (ridge route) is marked to the ridge with orange diamonds in the trees. Trail is extremely steep and is very hard on the legs coming down. Ice axe when snow is present, good hiking boots and the ten essentials are highly recommended. Parking pass is not required.

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