Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Hiking - Northern District

Boundary Trail #1
Burley Area
Ranger District:
Length: 32.4
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 3,600 to 4,600 feet above sea level
Special Conditions: Steep, with exposures near Shark Rock

Description: The Boundary Trail once formed the boundary between the Columbia and Rainier National Forests. Now it marks the southern boundary of the Cowlitz District. The principal route used by rangers on horseback patrols, the Boundary Trail was an important trail in the early history of the Forest Service. The trail was well established by 1911. It is now a National Recreation Trail, offering a backpacking opportunity or shorter hikes from various access points. The west end, open to hikers only, takes you through parts of the Mount St. Helens NVM. The section of trail from Norway Pass to Elk Pass begins at the Norway Pass Trailhead on Road 26.

The trail winds in and out of blown down forests. A short spur takes you to the shore of Ghost Lake at mile 2. The trail continues to the junction with Strawberry Mountain Trail #220 near Bear Meadow. The section of trail east of Bear Meadow is open to hikers, horses, motorcycles, and bicycles. From Bear Meadow to Elk Pass (4.5 miles), the trail is on a timbered, broad ridge, with occasional views of St. Helens. The section from Elk Pass to the junction with #292 is 2.5 miles. Badger Lake is approximately 4.1 miles from Elk Pass; Kirk Rock is 4.4 miles; Shark Rock is 5.4 miles; and Craggy Peak is 6 miles. The trail crosses Road 29 then continues on to Dark Meadows (2.5 miles from Road 29), to the junction with Trail #5, to Summit Prairie (5.5 miles), and on to Table Mtn. (7.9 miles).

The trail continues another 1.5 miles to Council Lake. Along its length, this trail offers views of St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, and a few glimpses of Hood. This area was glaciated repeatedly during the Ice Age. The marks of the glaciers' passage can be seen in the knifelike ridges and cirque basins all along the trail.

Council Bluff Trail #117
High Lakes Area
Ranger District:
Length: 0.3
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 4,300 to 4,800 feet above sea level
Special Conditions: Steep cliffs and exposures

Description: This trail begins a short distance northwest of Council Lake, on Boundary Trail #1. The trail climbs to the semi-open summit of Council Bluff, providing views of Adams and surrounding peaks. Please use caution when hiking this trail; there are steep cliffs in the area. In 1932 the Forest Service built a fire lookout on top of Council Bluff. The structure was removed in the 1960s.

Bluff Lake Trail #65
Goat Rocks Wilderness
Ranger District:
Length: 6.6
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 2,840 to 6,350 feet above sea level
Special Conditions: The trail is steep with exposures

Description: From Road 4612, this trail climbs east to Bluff Lake. From there it climbs to a subalpine landscape, ending at the junction of Clear Lost Trail #76 and Packwood Lake Trail #78 near the former site of Lost Lake Lookout. Features include Bluff Lake, Huntington Berry Patch, Coal Creek Mountain, and Bear Grass Butte. The Bluff Lake Trail was used by Native Americans to access a ridge system used by mountain goat hunters.

Oldgrowth Loop Trail #247A
Randle Area
Ranger District: Cowlitz
Length: 1
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 1,100 to 1,400 feet above sea level

Description: This loop trail takes off from Woods Creek Trail #247. It is barrier-free, but is more difficult than the main loop. The trail is three feet wide and is a mix of native surfacing and compacted gravel. Grades increase to short sections up to 20 percent. This loop takes hikers into an old-growth Douglas fir forest. From here, the trail drops back down into a mixed hardwood conifer forest, where it loops back to the beaver pond and ties back in with Trail #247.

Burley Mountain Trail #256
Burley Area

Ranger District: Cowlitz
Length: 3
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 1,600 to 4,100 feet above sea level

Description: There are a number of loop opportunities at the base of the Burley Mountain Trail that allow for hikes of varying lengths. If you start at the Cispus Learning Center, take the Covel Creek Trail #228, to the Covel Creek Falls Trail #228A, which ties in with the Angel Falls Loop Trail #228B. From here, the Burley Mountain Trail climbs steadily through an even-aged forest, the result of massive forest fires in the Cispus Valley in the early 1900s. Look for the remnants of the old forest... huge, black stumps. The trail ends on Road 7605, three miles shy of the summit of Burley Mountain.

There is a fire lookout on the summit that is still being used for fire detection. The Burley Mountain Lookout Trail #256A takes hikers from the parking area in the saddle below the summit, and climbs through huckleberries and wildflowers for half a mile to the fire lookout. Burley Mountain Lookout was built in 1934. It is one of three lookouts remaining on the Gifford Pinchot. The trail will eventually be tied through from the Cispus Center to the lookout trail. Check with the Cowlitz District for up-to-date information.

Packwood Lake Trail #78
Goat Rocks Wilderness

Ranger District: Cowlitz
Trail Park: Packwood Lake - Trailhead is on FR 1260 where Packwood Lake trail No. 78 heads off for the Goat Rocks Wilderness
Length: 9.6
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 2,860 to 6,350 feet above sea level

Description: Most of this trail is in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The trail starts at the end of Road 1260 and climbs gently through old growth. Two small harvest areas are passed within the first quarter-mile, offering views of Rainier. The trail then enters the wilderness and continues toward Packwood Lake. Within a short distance of the lake, the trail leaves the wilderness and descends to the lake. The trail climbs, enters the wilderness, and proceeds to Mosquito Lake and the junction with Trail #69.

The trail continues to climb, passing a junction with Trail #79 before reaching Lost Lake. The trail continues north on an open ridgeline to the junction with Trail #65 and Trail #76. The Packwood Lake Trail was constructed in 1910 by the Valley Development Company who had plans for a hydroelectric project. Long before the lake was explored for its hydroelectric potential, it was used by the Taidnapam people as a fishing and camping site. The 452-acre lake is located at the headwaters of Lake Creek. It was formed when a large mass of soil and rock slid off Snyder Mountain and dammed Lake Creek 1,200 years ago.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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