Weekend Backpacker: Seattle
William O. Douglas Wilderness
Naches Ranger Station
10061 Highway 12
Naches, WA 98937
There are 250 miles of trails in this crest-straddling wilderness bounded by Goat Rocks and Norse Peak wilderness areas. William O. Douglas boasts four major rivers, old-growth forests, countless lakes, and craggy peaks that push 7,500 feet. Plant and animal life is diverse, reflecting the disparate ecosystems of the east and west slopes. Trails are equally diverse, with at least 66 from which to choose.
Recommended trip: American Ridge.
At 26 miles, this is the longest continuous hike in the region. (There are several chances to shorten this trip by cutting back to the road and ending, for example, at Hells Crossing, Pleasant Valley, or Lodgepole campgrounds.) The main trail traces the east side of the ridge; the weather is typically drier but water can get scarce by midsummer. The trail from Bumping River Road climbs up forested switchbacks to the ridge before descending again to Fifes Creek. The next big assault takes you to Goat Peak at almost 7,500 feet, where you can drink in views of Rainier, Adams, and the crags that crown American Valley. The rest of the hike hops on and off the ridge, passing cirques and meadows before dropping down to meet the Pacific Crest Trail at Chinook Pass.
Getting there: Drive south on Highway 410 along the east side of Mount Rainier National Park to Chinook Pass, then follow the road east 19 miles until you reach Bumping River Road (County 1050). Turn south for 0.7 miles to the trailhead, marked as trail #958.
Permit information: The only permit required is a trail park pass for parking at the trailhead. Call ahead to check on the fee status.
Maps: Order the Naches Ranger District map by phone with a credit card, or use Green Trails No. 271 for Bumping Lake.
Recommended guides: Exploring Washington's Wild Areas (Mountaineers) by Marge and Ted Mueller offers insightful looks at the geology, flora, fauna and history of this region. A more detailed hiking description is found in 100 Hikes in Washington's South Cascades and Olympics (Mountaineers) by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication