The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is announcing the reopening of developed day-use and trailhead sites to recreational users. Beginning Friday May 15, 2020, most trailheads and day-use areas on the forest, as well as Forest Road 81, 83 and 90, will be reopened to the general public for use.
To align with Governor Jay Inslee’s Executive Order directing people to stay home and stay healthy, several sites will remain closed including:
- Lower Falls Recreation Area
- Ape Cave Interpretative Site and Forest Road 8303 leading to the site
- Johnston Ridge Observatory. State Route 504 – also known as Spirit Lake Memorial Highway will remain gated and closed at milepost 45.0, near Coldwater Lake.
Closures are necessary to address social distancing guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control, and to help reduce pressure on local emergency services. Ape Cave Interpretive Site and Lower Falls Day Use site will also undergo major construction projects this summer. Remaining closures will be evaluated as the state moves into Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington plan.
For a complete list of developed recreation sites both open and closed, please check the Gifford Pinchot National Forest’s website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/giffordpinchot/recreation
Campgrounds currently remain closed and will not be open for Memorial Day Weekend. Campsite reservation holders will be notified by Recreation.gov if there are any changes affecting their reservation. Refunds will be issued for all cancelled reservations. Forest recreation staff and campground concessionaire Rocky Mountain Resource Co., are working together to evaluate how to safely reopen campground areas and facilities.
Mount St. Helens climbing permits issued prior to the COVID-19 closure for May 15th and later are valid and the climbing route will open on May 15th. Permits to climb Mt. Adams will only be available online at recreation.gov beginning in early June 2020.
“We are looking forward to re-opening many previously closed areas on the forest, while prioritizing the health and safety of the public and employees,” said Tom Torres, acting Gifford Pinchot National Forest Supervisor. “Safety is our top priority as we continue coordinating with local Counties, adjacent forests and landowners through this health crisis”.
Some facilities, such as vault bathrooms, may remain open for public use but will not be maintained as we do not currently have the proper personal protective equipment necessary to ensure the safety of our employees. Members of the public wishing to utilize these facilities are doing so at their own discretion and must take all necessary precautions to ensure for their own personal health and safety. We cannot guarantee a COVID free facility. It is recommended that all visitors prepare to provide for their own sanitation and be as self-contained as possible while recreating.
Enjoy your public lands and please remember to respect all closures, recreate responsibly, and practice social distancing. Please help us keep the outdoors and enthusiasts healthy by following these easy guidelines from Tread Lightly!: https://www.treadlightly.org/tread-lightly-at-a-distance. Also review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and focus on protecting yourself, your family, and your community.
The Mount Hood National Forest and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area still have closures currently in effect. For more information visit: www.fs.usda.gov/mthood and www.fs.usda.gov/crgnsa.