Overland travel Trail Runs

Driving Northwest Forest Logging Roads

When driving the back roads of Washington you are likely to encounter all sorts of roads and vehicles. I would like to address “logging roads” through the forests of the Northwest.

Having worked in the woods for a number of years, I have become accustomed to driving logging roads and “dealing with” other logging road users. Weekends are a little easier but during the week logging roads can be down right dangerous to the unaware driver. There can be a wide range of vehicle traffic such as foresters in pickups to fuel and lube trucks servicing the heavy equipment at logging sites to loaded log and dump trucks. While drivers can seem rude at times, remember this is THEIR place of work. Their livelyhood relies on traveling these roads.

A few basic rules to follow while driving these roads are common sense. First of all SLOW DOWN and turn your headlights on. It may seem like you are the only one out there at times but 35 mph on a gravel corner can be really fast when that loaded logger lumbers into view, and according to the “law of gross tonnage” you will not be the winner. Many of the roads are not posted with speed limits, unless it is part of the county road system. 10-15 mph is a good speed for most locations with a narrow 1 or 1 1/2 lane road. Wider roads with long lines of sight and well maintained can be safe at 35 mph. Remember there are spur roads (short dead end roads) all along the way and they are often difficult to see from a distance. Headlights make it a lot easier to been seen as you pass from clearing to timber. If the oncoming car is in the sun and you are in the shadows you will be very difficult to see.

Second is to read road and warning signs. This can be misleading, at times as old signs are often neglegted and no longer a valid warning. Look for other “signs” too. If the sign says “Keep Out, active opperations” but the road has a layer of leaves and looks as though no one has driven it in a while you can assume operations are no longer active. If the road is well traveled and there are other indicators of a logging operation (strips of fresh bark, new rock, etc along the side of the road) then do as the sign says. If you are up berry picking and you encounter a sign that says the roads have recently been sprayed, look for a different berry patch. Chemicals used on roadsides are not hazardous to us in the doses you will find, but who like fresh fruit covered in weed killers. Lastly, plan on staying out of the woods during HIGH fire danger.

Active logging roads are often open to travel, even during the day when trucks are traveling it. Look for a sign that has the CB channel (you have a CB don’t you?) for the road and make not of the road name or number. Number three is, if you are going to travel logging roads, get a CB radio. They are inexpensive and are available at Radio Shack as well as other online and local electronic stores. Tune to the proper channel and listen for traffic. If a channel is not marked start at ch14 for main haul roads, ch12 is often used on secondary haul roads as well as ch13. Call out your position as you start up the road (I will use C-line as a generic road name) “in bound c line at the black top”. Look for numbers along the way either painted on threes, stumps or rocks as well as little signs tagged to trees. These are road markers used to identify the position of various vehicles along the road. If on your way in you pass a 2 painted on a tree call out “”inbound c-line marker 2”. Also listen to were the other vehicles are. “Loaded logger number 4 outbound (or east/west/north/south depending on road)” means you should start looking for a good turn off before you meet up with the truck.

Last, keep to the right. Theres the basics.

I found some good info on CB radios over at Roadtrip America.

If you have other advice or experiences with logging roads, please contact me or comment. I would also like to start a list of common CB channels used on main logging roads in the Northwest.

Trail Runs What's going on

What we are up against

In a recent article by the Seattle Times titled “Off-roading turned meadow into mud hole” it was reported that 6 individuals have been charged with malicious mischief for the destruction of a natural meadow near Wenatchee, Wa.

WENATCHEE — One night of destructive fun has altered the course of nature in a peaceful meadow south of the city and left six off-road truck drivers mired in legal trouble.

It reports that underground springs were opened and irrigation piping that feeds many of the local orchards were damaged. One of the suspects has already been sentenced to 22 months in prison for his participation in the destruction. The remaining 5 (one is a minor) will be in court in the coming weeks.

This highlights the uphill battle groups like the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Tread Lightly and the PNW 4WD Association have to fight to even keep open the areas we already have for our sport and hobby. If you haven’t already, take a look at these groups and consider donating.

When you are out on the trail and see it, try getting pictures of that kind of behavior and forwarding to Local, State or Federal agency in charge of the area AND the Department of Wildlife. Make sure you get license plates. Some of these drivers are so cocky and stupid, you cad even get them to pose with the truck IN the mud hole. Be sure to identify your self with your club or organization so they know this report is being made by an off-roader. We need the regulators and enforcers to know that WE are not the ones causing this kind of damage.

Trail Runs What's going on

DNR to hold Safety Summit for Off-Road Riders

DNR will be hosting a safety summit and a trail clean up.

Follow this link for more information DNR to Hold Safety Summit for Off-Road Riders

March 15th event at Straddleline ORV Park will feature free equipment inspections, safety tips, and classes

OLYMPIA – With warmer weather and longer hours of sunlight just around the corner, the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will present an ORV Safety Summit. The free event will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at Straddleline ORV Park, which is on State Route 8 between McCleary and Olympia.

The safety summit will give off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts and those new to the sport opportunities for free:
• Rider skills testing
• Noise and equipment inspections of their ORVs
• Test rides of new ORVs
• Safety seminars
• Search and rescue tips
• Drawings for prizes donated by local ORV dealers and local agencies

No advance registration is required for the day-long event which also includes a free lunch provided by local sponsors.

“This is a chance for adults and kids, newcomers and experienced riders alike, to learn important safety skills,” says Larry Raedel, DNR’s Chief of Law Enforcement Services. “DNR wants everyone to have safe, enjoyable, and sustainable recreational experiences on the more than 3 million acres of state trust lands we manage.”

Chief Raedel says the event is part of DNR’s commitment to teaching the public about safety, enforcing state regulations, and ensuring safe and enjoyable recreation experiences.

Following the four-hour safety summit, visitors are invited to join other DNR volunteers from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on a project to restore an ORV trail in the Capital State Forest, adjacent to Straddleline ORV Park.

Regulations for recreation and public access
Chief Raedel urges ORV riders to stay current on safety rules, such as state laws that require ORV users under age 13 to be supervised by a licensed driver age who is 18 years or older when operating an ORV on nonhighway roads designated for off-road vehicle use.

DNR law enforcement services
Chief Raedel joined DNR in September of 2005. He retired from the Washington State Patrol after 26 years of service.

The Law Enforcement section has officers in DNR’s six regions. Their enforcement activities include:

• Monitoring recreation to avoid injuries and property damage
• Checking and monitoring permits
• Investigating accidents
• Controlling vehicle speeds
• Preventing the theft of natural resources, such as timber, bear grass, salal, cedar boughs and wood

DNR – land manager and protector of natural resources
DNR, led by Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland, manages more than
3 million acres of state-owned trust forest, agricultural, range lands and commercial properties that earn income to build schools, universities and other state institutions, and help fund local services in many counties. In addition to earning income, trust lands help protect habitat for native plant and animal species, clean and abundant water, and offer public recreation and education opportunities statewide.

Doug Sutherland is Washington’s 12th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889.

Overland travel Trail Runs

Searching for Snow, Part II

Again we visited the Ahtanum area West of Yakima.  This time there was a little more snow.  We traveled the North Fork Road up past Snow Cabin.  We were able to make it within 2 miles of Darland Mountain from the north on this road before the snow (and snowmobile tracks) halted progress.

Snow Cabin CGWe spent the first part of the day at Snow Cabin Campground (there was no cabin that I could see).  This is a nice campground at about 4700′ elevation.  It has about 6 camp sites with fire pits and picnic tables.  There are 2 unisex latrines as well, but no running water.  We setup for at one spot for lunch.  I had forgotten to bring firewood, so we scavenged a few of the other fire pits for semi dry/charred wood to use.  After an hour of trying to start a fire (while I was making lunch on the camp stove) we gave up.  We ate lunch, then decided to head further up the road for deeper snow.

Sleed hillOnce we were denied access to the top of Darland Mountain, we headed back down the road a little for a good sledding spot.  We ended up finding one at an intersection with the 2300 road and spent an our sledding and having a snowball fight.  There was about 18″ of snow here.  We were just under 5700′.  I could only trek to the top so many times before I was worn out. 

snowball fightIt was getting later in the day and I didn’t want to be too far up a snow covered road once it got dark, so we headed down and around to Treephones.  We started a nice fire in the wood stove again to warm up the cabin.  We then had a good hide and seek snowball fight in the woods around the cabin.  We stayed until dark, having a snack in the now toasty cabin before heading down. 

It was another nice visit to the East Slope of the Central Cascades, one we will repeat several times throughout the winter.

Overland travel Trail Runs

Searching for Snow

This isn’t a trail run, more like a snow report. Veterans Day weekend we were over in Yakima and decided to look for some snow. On the trip over we went Hwy 410 through Chinook Pass and there was just a crust of snow left on the side of the road from the plows, and only at the summit. We figured we would have to look a little higher. We took the Ahtanum road out of Union Gap and headed up the North Fork road at Tampico. At the snow park (and end of paved road) we took the A2000 along the middle fork Ahtanum creek to Treephones campground. You can stay right at the intersection and it looks like (on the map) you will get to roughly the same place, go by Cougar Flats and another Snow cabin.

Treephones is a state Treephones Cabincampground managed by the DNR and has many camp sites and is set up for horse and pack animals. There are several large sites with trailer parking and a large turnaround parking lot. Treephones has a nice building built by a local snowmobile club the ?ski benders. It is a large hall with several large picnic tables and a wood stove in the center. We started a fire in the stove and cooked our soup for lunch. We also figured it would be nice to have a warm place to return to should we find good snow.

The Ahtanum area uses the green dot road managment system and some of the roads are closed to vehicle travel. We ended up taking the road behind Treephones up to Eagles nest and Clover Flats camp ground. This is were we started to get a little snow. We continued on to the top and Darland Mountain and Narroneck Gap. This is were we ended up playing, just below 7,000 feet. You can continue along the road and end up looping around to Cougar Flats and back to the North Fork road.

We did a little sledding here at the top of Darland Mountian.  The snow wasn’t that good, with a thick icey crust, but that didn’t matter.  Just watch out for the big rock at the bottom.

sledding 1  sledding 2  sledding 3

I think we will have to explore this area in the summer. It appears there is a number of trails that continue on down to Rimrock Lake area around Minnie Meadows and Buckhorn Meadows.