The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located in southwestern
Washington. It is comprised of 1,310,649 acres. Mt. Rainier
National Park is at the northern end of the Forest. Mt. St.
Helens, the volcano that erupted in 1980, is at the south western
section of the Forest. There are 57 developed campgrounds of
which 27 meet the selection criteria.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest (NF), one of the oldest forests
in the country, was named for the founder of the Forest Service.
This national forest might be best known as the home of the Mount
St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, established by Congress in
1982, but there is much more to discover in the Gifford Pinchot
NF. There are more then 1,200 miles of trails to tempt hikers
and equestrians. Also, crystal clear pristine lakes, stocked
full with a variety of fish, await anglers. And, berry fields are
just waiting for pickers to harvest the plump purple fruit.
Looking for solitude, outstanding recreational opportunities,
creative inspiration, wildlife, forest products or scenic beauty?
You'll find it in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
So who exactly was Gifford Pinchot? He is generally regarded as
the "father" of American conservation because of his unrelenting
concern for the protection of American forests. He was the
first "chief" or forester when the Forest Service was established
in 1905. He served in that position with distinction, motivating
and providing leadership in the management of natural resources
and protection of national forests. He continued as the forester
until 1910, seeing forest reserves (later renamed national
forests) grow from 60 units covering 56 million acres to 150
national forests covering 172 million acres, and continued his
conservation efforts after leaving the Forest Service.
Pinchot talked about a "sustainable yield" of timber when most
thought he and like-minded people were impractical theorists,
more or less touched in the head, because forests were
"inexhaustible." One has only to look at the patches of "clear
cut" on private land surrounding the Forest to see what concerned
Pinchot. There are places in the Gifford Pinchot NF where the
trees have been harvested but not using "destructive" logging
practices of the past. Pinchot would be pleased.
The long drive down a dusty forest road to Walupt Lake
illustrates the benefits of respectful forest management.
Hugging the Goats Rock Wilderness boundary, the lake is
surrounded by a pleasant mix of healthy conifers that have been
harvested at least once. The adjacent Walupt Lake campground
offers campers a great location to explore the wilderness and a
crystal clear Walupt Lake, all due to Pinchot's guidelines.
Takhlakh Lake campground, with the towering Mt. Adams reflected
in the calm water, is equally attractive but offers campers two different
camping experiences. This developed campground wraps around the
lake with one section designated for tent campers only while the
other section features sites that can accommodate recreational
vehicles as well as tent campers. With dinner-size rainbow trout
and a couple of good hiking trails, Pinchot would probably find
Takhlakh Lake campground a great place to enjoy the forest.
Mt. Rainier National Park borders the Gifford Pinchot National
Forest's north side. Many visitors to the Forest make Mt.
Rainier a "Must" and La Wis Wis and Big Creek campgrounds are
perfect base camps for such an activity. Only about five miles
from the Park's western entrance, Big Creek campground offers
campers sites in a lush semitropical environment of Vine maple,
alders, fern and moss as well as grand old Douglas fir and
towering hemlock. On the south side of Mt. Rainier, La Wis Wis
campground features older, larger trees, a less tropical
environment, and a campground better-suited for tent campers. In
both campgrounds, campers can hear a free-flowing creek, have
trails to discover the forest up close, and are within an easy
drive of not only the Park but the community of Packwood's
holiday weekends Flea Market.
Perhaps Pinchot would prefer to camp on the southern side of the
Gifford Pinchot NF. Here the forest shows signs of more recent
harvesting and the positive effects of respectful management.
Campgrounds might be rather rustic, such as Goose Lake, or
designed for easy use by recreational vehicles such as Peterson
Prairie campground, but this area features some delightful and
unique locations to explore. The Ice Cave, Natural Bridges,
wild-flower display at Bird Creek Meadows, Langfield Falls, and
acres of huckleberries for picking, are just a few of this area's
Until May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens was considered one of most
perfectly shaped volcanoes in the world. At 8:32 A.M. on that
day, the north side of Mount St. Helens exploded and unleashed an
awesome destructive force. The area devastated by the volcano's
eruption, now designated Mount St. Helens National Volcanic
Monument, is being managed using many of the conservation
principles advocated by Pinchot. The west side of the Monument
has a great Interpretive Center and the Johnson Ridge
Observatory. However, Iron Creek campground, on the east side,
is conveniently located for campers to enjoy a day trip for
discovering the Monument on their own.
Pinchot would also be pleased to see the number of horse camps
available in the forest. For the most incredible view, few horse
camps can beat the vista found at Mt. Adams Horse Camp. For a
variety of trails, Cody Horse Camp and Walupt Horse Camp are
outstanding. And, consider exploring the destruction and rebirth
of the Mount St. Helens area from the Green River Horse Camp.
(The Walupt and Green River Horse Camps, with less than ten
campsites each, are not included in the authors' research.)
While equestrian campers find much to do in the Gifford Pinchot
NF, there are a growing number of opportunities for the off-
highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts. Blue Lake Creek and Adams Fork
campgrounds are well located for OHV enthusiasts to enjoy the
100-mile plus network of trails in the area.
Gifford Pinchot was a conservationist who championed resource
use, allocation, exploitation, and protection. His primary focus
was maintaining the health of the natural world - its forests,
fisheries, habitats, and biological diversity. Today, the Forest
Service continues to observe Pinchot's principles while meeting
the growing demands recreational activities put on a national
forest. Pinchot would probably be proud to see how this forest
with his name is doing. You are invited to visit the Gifford
Pinchot National Forest to see how it is doing and enjoy all this
forest has to offer.
10600 N.E. 51st Circle
Vancouver, Washington 98682
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
10024 US Hwy 12
P.O. Box 670
Randle, Washington 98377
2455 Hwy. 141
Trout Lake, Washington 98650
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
42218 NE Yale Bridge Rd
Amboy, Washington 98601