How to get to Government Meadows, with its flowers, berries, and cabin? Let me count the ways…
- Ride your favorite motorcycle up the trail from FS Road 70.
- Drive your 4x4 carefully up the Naches Trail (aka State Route 168!) from the west or east and park in the lot.
- Ride your horse or hike from the horse camp to the Pacific Crest Trail (northbound).
- Hike south on the Pacific Crest Trail from Pyramid Pass or from the informal access point east of the pass.
- In winter, ride your snowmobile from the Pyramid Creek SnoPark and enjoy a warm fire in the Urich Cabin.
The shortest way to the meadows starts at the informal Pacific Crest Trail access point on FS Rd 787. Follow the access trail southwest for 20 yards and turn left (southbound) at the unmarked junction onto the Pacific Crest Trail. The 0.8-mile hike is initially in a second growth forest and then transitions to an old growth forest as it gradually climbs through a low pass and descends toward Government Meadows.
You know you’re getting close when you cross the Naches Trail (4x4 trail) and get to the edge of the parking lot with a trailhead sign. Continue past the trailhead sign, an information sign about the Longmire Party of 1853, and the Mike Urich cabin to reach the meadows.
A longer alternative is 3.0 miles round trip. It starts at the Government Meadows Horse Camp/Trailhead at the end of FS Road 70. The trail starts on an abandoned road in the remnants of an old clearcut, which is now grass, small trees, and brush. It then enters a two-tiered forest of old growth trees with a seedling understory. The PCT is reached in 0.8 mile, at elevation 4880 feet, not the quarter mile on the sign to the west of the junction.
Turn left (northbound) onto the Pacific Crest trail and follow it for 0.7 mile to Government Meadows. The pleasant walk through old growth forest has glimpses of the meadows through the trees and crosses the outlet stream on a bridge before reaching the cabin and the meadows.
The cabin is named after local forester, Mike Urich and is maintained by the Sno-Jammers Snowmobile Club. It has a wood stove and a loft (ladder access). A few yards away are two outhouses.
- Bugs can be bothersome in early summer, especially if walking through the meadows stirring up the mosquitos.
- In summer, the expansive meadows are dotted with flowers and in quiet periods at dawn and dusk, elk and deer graze on the far reaches.
- In late summer the berries are ripe, both north and south of the meadows, and in the surrounding forest.
- In the crisp cold air of fall, orange (or pink) is the seasonal clothing color as the hunters are out looking for deer and elk.