Portion of PCT also restricted
The Methow Valley Ranger District has closed trails and recreation areas, including the northernmost section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), because of the risk from wildfires in the Pasayten Wilderness Area. The fires all grew in size in hot, windy conditions last week.
The Kid Fire was about 3 miles from the PCT as of Friday (Sept. 2). The U.S. Forest Service has closed the trail from Holman Pass north to the Canadian border. The fire has been very active, with spotting and torching of grouped trees.
The Forest Service was conducting reconnaissance flights on Tuesday (Sept. 6) and expected to have more information about the fires on Wednesday.
Areas and trails on both sides of the PCT are closed, so hikers should exit at Harts Pass. Wilderness rangers are at the Harts Pass guard station and on the PCT near Hopkins Lake basin to direct hikers and provide information.
The largest, the Parks Fire, crossed the border and is burning in Manning Park near the trail that connects to the northern terminus of the PCT. It is not safe to cross into Canada. Moreover, no Canada PCT entry permits are being issued this year, according to the PCT Association.
There is no re-route at this time and hikers should check the PCT Association Facebook page for updates.
Fires burning near the border
There were 11 fires in the Methow Valley Ranger District, most near the Canadian border, as of Sept. 2. Smokejumpers and fire crews responded to some of them, but others are in steep, inaccessible terrain.
“All of the fires in the northwestern part of the Pasayten Wilderness gained some acreage yesterday,” Assistant Fire Management Officer Brian Campbell said on Friday. The Parks Fire was 1,000 acres on Friday and active on all sides.
The trail closures also affect through-hikers on the Pacific Northwest Trail, which runs from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean.
A fire closer to the valley burned 1/10 acre near the Blackpine Lake campground, 6 miles southwest of Twisp, on Aug. 31. That fire was in control status as of Sept. 2, meaning that it wasn’t likely to get outside its fire line, according to the ranger district.
Campbell predicted increased fire behavior on most of the fires in hot and dry weather. Smoke from these fires and others in the region may affect north central Washington.
- Pacific Crest Trail from Holman Pass (at the junction with Trail #752 and Trail #472.1) north to the Canadian Border.
- Boundary Trail #533 (part of the Pacific Northwest Trail) from the junction with Robinson Creek–Middle Fork Pasayten Trail #478 to the junction with the PCT.
- Rock Creek Trail #473 from the junction with Robinson Creek–Middle Fork Pasayten Trail #478 to 0.6 mile east of the PCT (Coney Basin is not closed).
- West Fork Pasayten Trail #472 from the junction with Robinson Creek–Middle Fork Pasayten Trail #478 to the junction with Holman Trail #472.1.
- Devil’s Ridge Trail #752 (part of the Pacific Northwest Trail) from the junction with the PCT at Holman Pass, west to Devil’s Pass.
- Castle Pass Trail #749.
- Chuchuwanteen Trail #482.
- Heather Lake Trail #490.
- Parks Trail #495.
- There is an area closure for the Freezeout Creek basin. This closure includes the Castle Pass Trail #749 north to the Canadian border, east to the Whatcom County border, and west to boundary with Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
Fires in the Methow Valley Ranger District (as of Sept. 2):
- Smokejumpers are assigned to the 2-acre Tamarack Peak Fire located 5 miles northwest of Harts Pass.
- On Sept. 1, helicopters dropping water on the 1-acre Tower Fire, 13 miles west of Mazama, were able to slow the spread. Smokejumpers were working on the fire.
- The 1,000-acre Parks Fire is active on all sides and has crossed the border into Canada.
- The 3-acre Kid Fire, a newer fire on the ridge between Rock Creek and West Fork Pasayten, 8 miles south of the border, has been very active with spotting and torching of grouped trees.
- The Skagit Fire, in Freezeout Creek 6 miles south of the border, is 40 acres and has spread north, crossing the top of the ridge and burning down the other side.
- The Three Fools Fire, 8 miles south of the border, is estimated at 100 acres. It is actively backing down the ridge and through an old burn scar and has spotted north of the ridge.
- The 100-acre Elbow Fire, 6 miles south of the border, is actively backing down the slope near Skagit Peak.
- The 20-acre Shull Fire, 11 miles south of the border, is seeing increased fire activity.
- The 4-acre Castle Fire is 8 miles south of the border.
- There is no smoke showing from the 1/10-acre Powder Mountain Fire and there appeared to be no activity.