Lost Trails Found Crews, Volunteers, Return to Trails in the Entiat
The Entiat has suffered from a number of wildfires over the last decade, and the damage from those burns is still being felt today. But thankfully, our crews have been chipping away at those damages.
The Entiat Valley is a gem on the eastern flanks of the Cascades Mountains — it's high, wild and remote with an extensive network of trails to loop up and explore. The region has also suffered a number of wildfires over the last decade, and the damage from those burns is still being felt today. Many of the trails remain in rough shape with fallen trees, washed-out trail tread and overgrown brush, but we've been chipping away at those damages thanks to our Lost Trails Found campaign.
In the summer of 2021, we returned to work in the Entiat in earnest, sending our Lost Trails Found crew into the region for the majority of their summer season. The crew, alongside several Backcountry Response Teams (BCRTs) worked on trails throughout the Entiat River Valley and cleared hundreds of logs from the trail corridor, which helped enable some pretty epic late summer trips. But, the reality of post-burn areas helps illustrate why tackling these deferred maintenance projects is needed. Burned forests are weak, and windy storms combined with wet, loose soil means that fallen trees pile up fast over the winter. And, without the shade from the tree canopy, new understory growth springs up quickly and fills the trail corridor.
To keep these areas accessible long into the future, we need more than a season of work. We need consistent maintenance that addresses the impacts of the fire and looks for sustainable solutions that can minimize the damage of future storms. So, this summer, we sent out our Lost Trails Found crews along with several backcountry volunteer trips for more than 8 weeks of work to clear up new seasonal damage and work on trails that we weren't able to make it to last year.
Refreshing our work in the Entiat
Between five Lost Trails Found crew trips and two Backcountry Response Teams, we had a busy summer in the Entiat! We returned to many of the same spots — Cow Creek Meadows, Larch Lakes, Entiat River, Ice Lakes — to refresh the work we had started the prior summer.
Since our last visit in 2021, there were hundreds more fallen trees to clear — not only the trails, but also the road to the trailhead. Starting from the road and working our way deeper into the wilderness, our crews cleared a total of 600 logs and cut back over 10 miles of encroaching brush.
Getting a head start on Pomas Creek
The Pomas Creek trail is a 5-mile connector trail that can be used to create a 21.5-mile lollipop loop in conjunction with the Entiat River Trail — branching off of Larch Lakes in the south and the Ice Lake trail in the north. The Pomas connector provides some seriously spectacular high country views, including a rare vantage point into the adjacent Rock Creek River Valley and nearby Carne Mountain.
We weren't quite able to make it Pomas Creek last summer, so we were thrilled to get one of our Lost Trails Found crews out there this year. In late September, just as the fall colors were beginning to turn, our crew set out to re-establish a few lost segments of the Pomas Creek trail.
The trip ended up being the biggest hiking hitch in Lost Trails Found history — the crew hiked 48 miles and climbed over 15,000 feet over their 8 days in the backcountry! Through the climbs and bushwhacking, they logged out nearly 5 miles of trail and brushed another 3.5 miles along Pomas Creek, Larch Lakes and the Entiat River up to Snowy Brushy. Future work here will need to redefine the trail along the northern end of Pomas where over a mile has become all but lost, reestablish tread in several areas of steep, treacherous sidehill and continue brushing through the thick slide alder and vine maple.
Supporting a trail system
We're excited to keep up our momentum in this special place and are so grateful for our advocates, volunteers and members who make this work possible. This year, our crews were made possible thanks to funding through the Great American Outdoors Act and the support of generous individual donors. We're looking forward to the continued revival of the Entiat River Valley as we chip away at even more post-wildfire damage in the years to come. Head to wta.org/losttrails to keep up with the latest on our work in the Entiat and other lost trails around the state.