Sitka spruce tree blocks road

A windstorm on the evening of January 28, 2016 was the final blow for a large rotting Sitka Spruce tree by the Bessemer Road gate, about 7 miles up the Middle Fork road. It fell across the road, completely blocking all access to the upper valley. Two early arrivals parked on the side of the road and did their planned bike ride or hike from there. But a couple heading for Goldmyer Hot Springs were determined to get through so drove back home to get a chain saw and try to get enough of the tree cut out to drive through. Soon after they started working other locals that often help with tree clearing showed up and steady progress was made clearing the 3-foot diameter tree. After about an hour a 2-person King County road crew arrived with bigger chainsaws and a truck with a winch. They were able to cut through a healthier part of the tree and drag a large section out of the way. Normally King County is not responsible for road clearing because the paving project is not done, but they came out because they were concerned that people farther up the valley might be stranded. A path was finally cleared by about 3 PM.

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Big Sitka Spruce blowdown by the Bessemer Road junction

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Vehicles headed up the valley are blocked

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Volunteers start cutting through the rotten and splintered lower section

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A King County crew showed up with bigger chainsaws and cleared a bigger and heavier section

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By 3 PM a path was cleared enough for vehicles to pass

On February 5 another King County crew equipped with a big excavator returned to the spot to complete the clearing.
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On February 5 the tree is completely cleared


DNR hosts Teneriffe trailhead forum

On January 26, 2016 the local DNR staff hosted a neighborhood forum to discuss early stage plans for a new trailhead at the base of Mount Teneriffe. The DNR had previously met with selected neighbors and scheduled a previous forum that was lightly attended because a strong windstorm hit the area that day. This event drew about 40 people, the higher attendance probably due to an article about the meeting in a local newspaper.

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Neighbors filter in as the DNR staff prepares to start the meeting

After a brief overview, Doug McClelland of the local DNR office fielded questions and concerns from the audience for over an hour and half. Doug emphasized that the DNR is not trying to draw more recreation related traffic up the narrow SE Mount Si Road, rather it is trying to solve a problem of inadequate parking at the school bus turn-around as the Mount Teneriffe trails become more popular. This Mount Si NRCA project is only one part of a comprehensive Snoqualmie Corridor Recreation Plan including DNR lands on Tiger Mountain, the Raging River valley, Rattlesnake Mountain, and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA. Most of the trailheads being developed are close to I-90 and do not involve hikers walking or driving through a residential area. That makes this trailhead particularly sensitive and neighbors from the affected area were not shy to voice their concerns.

Issues

  • Parking and traffic on SE Mt Si Road and in nearby neighborhoods. A few spots along the road are legal to park on, but parking in areas where it’s prohibited only incurs a $20 ticket which most felt is not enough of a deterrent.
  • Safety concerns due to hikers walking along the road when the Mt Si parking lot is full. There are no sidewalks and the shoulder is narrow so the hikers often walk in the traffic lanes
  • Increased traffic on a service level 4 road that receives only minimal maintenance. Most of these issues must ultimately be addressed by King County, but integrated planning by all parties and a coordinated request will probably yield the best results.
  • Concerns about visitors trespassing on private property and inappropriate behavior. One resident found visitors having a picnic on her lawn. Some hikers feel free to change clothes in the middle of the street. Ungated parking lots invite activities unrelated to hiking, including some users frequently staying overnight.
  • Concerns about levels of police patrols and enforcement. This is another issue that extends well beyond the DNR, but should be addressed as part of the plan.

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Doug McClelland fields neighbors questions and concerns


Mitigations

These problems are not going to be easy to solve, but Doug emphasized that there is good cooperation between the various levels of government and other groups funding the projects. Visitation levels have been increasing for years and doing nothing is not a solution. Some of the possible mitigations discussed were

  • Installing a vending machine for purchase a Discover Pass to reduce pressure to park outside the designated areas
  • Continuing the experiment with a shuttle service started in the summer of 2015. It got a lot of publicity but very little use. Ultimately a shuttle service will be needed for both the Mount Si and Middle Fork areas because there will not be enough parking for the anticipated demand. The Middle Fork paving project actually reduces the number of possible parking places because the road is being raised to improve drainage and this results in steep shoulders.
  • Avoid building new trails beyond those that currently exist in the Mount Si NRCA and encourage use of trails in other nearby areas with better access.
  • Consider electronic surveillance to help safety and law enforcement. Automatically monitoring how full the lots are and making the information available online could direct hikers to less busy areas.
  • Improve signage for parking, pass requirements and purchase, and other nearby hiking options

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Attendees got a chance to visit with the local DNR staff after the meeting


Concept Plans

Work on the Teneriffe trailhead and other Snoqualmie Corridor facilities is being funded by a $100,000 grant – RCO 14-1841 Snoqualmie Corridor Facilities Design. The initial thinking when applying for the grant was to build a new parking lot uphill from the school bus turn around where hikers currently park.

2014TeneriffeTrailheadConcept

An early trailhead concept from the grant application showed a multi-loop parking lot uphill from the school bus turn around, near the water tower.

Work done as part of the grant evaluated the possible trailhead locations more carefully and the preferred site shifted to area B shown below. The DNR staff stressed that these are still concept drawings. Actual plans require significantly more study to evaluate wildlife, drainage, traffic and other impacts.
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Locations evaluated for a new trailhead. Relatively flat ground and distance from streams and wetlands are advantageous which made the C and D sites unworkable.

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A comparison of the two most likely sites. Site A was initially favored but turned out to have steeper slopes and more difficult drainage problems than site B, the current front runner.

Related news

01/11/2016 Living Snoqualmie – New Hiking Trailhead, 70 Car Parking Lot Planned for Mt. Si Road, Residents Voice Concerns

First ski descent from Mount Si haystack

The end of 2015 saw two notable ski feats on Mount Si; one a descent from the top of haystack and the other down the Black Canyon. Both were made possible by unusually heavy snow fall that was stable enough to ski on without triggering slides.

Mount Si from Rachor Place NE

Mount Si from Rachor Place NE


Congratulations to Peter Avolio, Trevor Kostanich and Dave Jordan for the first ski descent of Mount Si starting from the top of the haystack. Previous descents have been done down the open gulleys of the west face but did not start at the very top.

Dave Jordan skis from the top of the Haystack on the summit of Mount Si. Trevor Kostanich is visible to the right of Jordan. Photo by Emily Larson


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The Mount Si haystack as seen from a paraglider with the skier’s approximate route shown. Photo by Aaron Hinkley.


Trevor Kostanich (left) and Dave Jordan prepare to ski from the top of Mount Si’s summit block. Photo by Peter Avolio.



A few days earlier Frank Bush also took advantage of the unusual snow conditions and reported skiing down the Black Canyon. In his words “On Christmas morning Mt Si was ripe, but couldn’t find a partner so I solo skied the deep walled canyon with a 12 foot rock step 2/3 down. Side step down steep rock slab with shrubs to grab (60′) to get into it, then several hundred feet of good pow turns before jump turns on 10″ covered rocks. Rock step near bottom is very obvious, it crosses the whole line from wall to wall.
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The Black Canyon in February, 2010. A difficult scramble route.

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The Black Canyon in December, 2015. An even more difficult ski line. Photo by Frank Bush.



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Black Canyon ski descent. Photo by Frank Bush.

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Black Canyon ski descent. Photo by Frank Bush.


Related News

Fall storms block trails

Three severe fall storms have been devastating to some of the Middle Fork trails. This update summarizes what is known as of January 12, 2016. Updates will be added as news trickles in.

Little Si
No reports of problems in recent trip reports

Mount Si
A hiker on the day of the most recent storm reported no serious blowdown

Teneriffe Falls / Peak
On the WTA site Stuke Sowle posted a January 8 grand tour trip report including Teneriffe falls and peak, the CCC plateau, Mailbox Peak, and Granite Creek trail.

Mailbox Peak
About two dozen trees are down across the new trail, but deep snow obscures the trail higher up. There are no reported trees down on the old trail. The DNR has cleared trees blocking access to the parking lot. Some recent storms have left slippery snow on the access road to the parking lot so on those days the gate is left locked to prevent cars from sliding down the relatively steep slope.

Granite Creek – This trail has a large number of trees down and is impassible beyond the Granite Creek bridge. As of December 26 a trail has been broken in deep snow as far as the bridge.

Granite Creek blowdown near the trailhead

Granite Creek blowdown near the trailhead

Blowdown on the Granite Creek trail beyond the bridge. Photo by Kevin Smythe

Blowdown on the Granite Creek trail beyond the bridge. Photo by Kevin Smythe



December 7 seekingultra report: Granite Lakes trail windstorm destruction“The Granite Lakes trail off of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie road has been obliterated by blowdown after the bridge crossing Granite Creek. There are 100+ blowdowns in the 1/4-mile past the bridge and the 100 yards ahead we could see when we stopped appeared to be more of the same.

December 19 WTA report: Thompson Lake, Granite Lakes Trail“After the second bridge is when the trail starts to become difficult to navigate. We went up and over fallen trees for about 30-40 minutes with NO relief and none that looked like it was coming. Ultimately it became too much and a little unsafe for the dogs to navigate.”
Deep snow on the Granite Creek bridge

Deep snow on the Granite Creek bridge



Sitka Spruce – Minor blowdown but still passable. The log over the small creek near the concrete bridge is partially washed out. Whitebark@nwhikers.net reports that he cleared some of the blowdown on December 29.

Partially washed out Sitka Spruce creek bridge

Partially washed out Sitka Spruce creek bridge

Blowdown on the Sitka Spruce trail

Blowdown on the Sitka Spruce trail


Pratt River – There are 27 trees down in the first .6 miles to the Rainy Creek bridge and it is very difficult to get past some of them because of steep slopes below the trail. The root ball of two trees pulled up part of the trail about 1/4 mile in but it is still easily passed.

Pratt River trail blowdown

Pratt River trail blowdown

Pratt River trail blowdown

Pratt River trail blowdown

Pratt River trail blowdown

Pratt River trail blowdown

Rainy Creek bridge. A big tree just missed it on the far side

Rainy Creek bridge. A big tree just missed it on the far side


CCC – No recent reports. Status is unknown.


Bessemer Roadoneeyedfatman@nwhikers.net posted a Bessemer Road trip report from January 9, 2016. The Middle Fork road was icy and difficult to drive, there was some tedious blowdown on the Bessemer Road. He turned around at ~2900′.

Tedious blowdown on the Bessemer Road. Photo by peaklist@flickr


Middle Fork – There are three trees down in the first mile, two of these are difficult to cross. Beyond that is unknown but probably bad. The winds were severe in this part of the valley based on the number of trees down across the road on the other side of the river.

Recently fallen trees by the Gateway bridge

Recently fallen trees by the Gateway bridge

Blowdown on far side of Gateway bridge

Blowdown on far side of Gateway bridge

Middle Fork trail blowdown

Middle Fork trail blowdown

Middle Fork trail blowdown

Middle Fork trail blowdown

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Damaged, but still usable log bridge over Burntboot Creek near Goldmyer Hot Springs. The December storm undercut the support on the far side and lowered the two big logs so they are no longer roughly level as before. The closer log has also been rotated so the flattened part no longer points up. Photo by Bill Davis.



Dingford Creek – No recent reports. Status is unknown but this part of the valley did not experience the worst winds and the trail is probably buried under snow for the winter season after the heavy snows of the Christmas week.

Taylor River The last quarter mile to the trailhead has been washed out. Park at the wide spot just past the first Taylor River bridge. The trail was apparently not hit too hard. On 12/19/2015 PataGenn at WTA reported “Snow started before the MF trailhead. 3-4″ of snow at the beginning, 7-8″ when we turned around at about 3 3/4 miles. Snow falling from the trees as it warmed up.” Photo by PataGenn.


 

Dutch Miller Gap – No recent reports. Status is unknown but this trail is probably buried under snow for the winter season after the heavy snows of Christmas week.

Work begins on Granite Creek shortcut trail

Work has begun on the new Granite Creek shortcut trail. This trail will start at a new parking lot the DNR plans to build near the concrete bridge and will wind up the ridge west of Granite Creek to join the old road, recently converted to a trail. The new trail starts out on an old logging road but leaves about 1/3 miles in on a new track that stays along the ridge line. For a number of years there has been a little know user-built trail that some hikers have used to shorten the distance to Granite Lakes by about 1 1/2 miles each way. Sections of that trail have always been steep and muddy and the new trail looks like it will be a big improvement when completed. But as of December 26 with recent rains and snow, the new trail is also very muddy and slippery and does not yet connect with the main trail above.

New Granite Creek shortcut trail route. The trail is still being roughed in. The dotted line is based on pink flagging indicating where the rest of the trail will probably be located.

In a 2009 planning document the DNR said “The new trail will follow the old logging road for half a mile, but then leave the road and wind its way up to the east amongst the various stream drainages west of the Granite Creek Canyon. Once above these deeply cut drainages, the trail will climb the dry ground available west of Granite Creek to meet the Granite Road-Trail, utilizing as few climbing turns and switchbacks as possible.”
2009PlanningMap

2009 trail route concept. Planning has been going on for a long time. The route as constructed deviates quite a bit from this early version.

The new trail currently leaves the old logging road about .3 miles from the main road

The new trail currently leaves the old logging road about .3 miles from the main road

The new trail is roughed in with freshly cut banks for now

The new trail is roughed in with freshly cut banks for now

Amenities are already being built such as this bench at a spot with a view over Granite Creek

Amenities are already being built such as this bench at a spot with a view over Granite Creek

The new trail winds back and forth on a ridge and stays much closer to Granite Creek than the old user-built shortcut trail

The new trail winds back and forth on a ridge and stays much closer to Granite Creek than the old user-built shortcut trail

Excavator that's handling the initial trail rough-in

Excavator that’s handling the initial trail rough-in

December storm extends road closure

Just as the Middle Fork road was about to be opened for the winter season another major storm blew through resulting in yet another extension of the closure. Four inches of warm rain was recorded at Valley Camp for December 8 with an additional 1.22 inches the following day. The TANW1 gage showed a double peak, first at 25,000 cfs at 6pm on December 8 and 24,000 cfs at 5:15am on December 9.

After seeing the effects, the road closure was justified as wind gusts blew down numerous trees, mostly in the first two miles of the road above the Mailbox trailhead. About seven medium sized trees blocked the road to the Dingford trailhead and these were cleared by Friday. Reports continue to come in of blowdowns on trails, but the full impact of this series of severe winter storms may not be known until spring.

After the storm on Wednesday, December 9, a geotechnical engineer inspected the slope and Champion beach and approved opening the roadway through the slide area. There is barrier in place to catch any debris that may come down. ACI is clearing the downed trees through the project area and the road may be open to the public as early as Thurday, December 17.

Atmospheric River from Cliff Mass weather blog

Atmospheric River from Cliff Mass weather blog

TANW1 Discharge

Early forecasts for this storm predicted a very dangerous crest of up to 32,100 cfs. Fortunately that did not occur or else much more damage would have been done.

Early forecasts for this storm predicted a very high crest of up to 32,100 cfs. Fortunately that did not occur or else much more damage would have been done.

Comparison of the four major storms so far in 2015. The most recent storm didn't crest quite as high but lasted longer

Comparison of the four major storms so far in 2015. The most recent storm didn’t crest quite as high but lasted longer

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SW Mt Si Blvd was blocked off here and at Bendigo Blvd

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Brawling Creek just above the Middle Fork river

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Sitka Spruce creek trail bridge was partially washed out and submerged under murky clay-filled water

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Trees down blocking the Mailbox trail parking lot

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Small creek creates interesting mud flow patterns

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Blowdown cleared by Island Drop

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Mine Creek bridge damage

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Blowdown by Mine Creek

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Temporary rock buttress supporting Champion Beach road cut

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Overview of area by Champion Beach that has been a concern for earth movements

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Area above temporary rock buttress that protects the road against minor mud and clay slumping

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Big tree blocking road beyond Champion Beach

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Slumping road cut

20151216MiddleViewPulloutErosion

Partial washout of a dispersed camping site pullout. This pullout was built in 2014 as part of the paving project.

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Severe bank erosion by a dispersed campsite downstream of Camp Brown. The river is aggressively migrating toward the road here with each major storm.

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Further erosion of the Taylor River spur road. The river will likely flow here often now so it’s unlikely this will be repaired to a level suitable for motorized access.

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Further erosion of the Taylor River spur road. The washout is deeper than it appears in this photo.

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Fresh blowdown on the road to Dingford Creek from this storm. This was the major impact between the turnoff at the Taylor River and the Dingford Creek trailhead. Photo by Charles Lingel.

Before and after clearing debris from the road

Not all trees fall during the storm. The high water undercut the bank and the next big snow fall brought the tree down.

Not all trees fall during the storm. The high water undercut the bank and the next big snow fall brought the tree down.

Related News

MTSG dinner features Middle Fork appeal

The Mountain To Sound Greenway held it’s annual celebration dinner on December 2, 2015 at the Washington State Convention Center. As always they presented a series of accomplishments over the year, with the acquisition of land around Valley Camp being of interest here.

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Mountain To Sound Greenway Dinner & Celebration. Photo by MTSG via Twitter


Besides that acknowledgement, each seat had a flyer on it with an appeal for contributions to support needed infrastruction in the Middle Fork valley. Pages from that flyer are reproduced here and it’s available as a PDF file from the MTSG website. If this is a cause you support, please consider donating to the MTSG which does an enormous amount of good work there.
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Middle Fork 101 – Page 1

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Middle Fork 101 – Page 2

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Middle Fork 101 – Page 3


Of course, it was gratifying to see the use of two photos from this website’s author.
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Sunbathers on rock with Garfield Mountain in the background

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Possibly a stump from what may have been Washington’s biggest tree. 42.5′ circumference, 13.5′ diameter

Third 2015 high water event

A third 2015 storm caused high water flows on the Middle Fork river on November 17, the first time there have been three such significant events in a calendar year since records started in 1961. The peak flows rank this storm as the 10th highest to-date. The previous two events this year were the January 5 storm (8th highest) that closed the Middle Fork road for months, and the recent October 31 storm on Halloween that had somewhat lower flows and only caused a minor washout on the Taylor River road spur. The peak water flow of 27,300 cfs was just below the peak level of the January 5 event. Flow levels over 20,000 cfs were sustained for 10 hours.

On Thursday, two days after the storm passed, the WFLH announced that the road would be closed at least until Wednesday, November 25, 2015, an extension of 5 days from the previous closure. The closure point was moved to just beyond the Mailbox trailhead so it would be available for weekend. The concern for public safety is about some large boulders poised above the road at the new bank cut just before Champion Beach that could come down onto the road. Then on Wednesday, the closure was extended to noon Friday, December 4, including the Thanksgiving weekend. That date came and went with no opening and the most recent newsletter announced that the road will be closed indefinitely. The Mailbox trailhead will continue to be accessible.

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Comparison of three 2015 high water events

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Middle Fork river at Island Drop on 11/17/2015. Photo by WFLH.

This is a summary of the known after effects of this storm. Most of the trails have not yet been surveyed. All MP numbers are measured from the turn off onto the Middle Fork road.

  • The lower road below the Taylor River turnoff where paving construction has improved the culverts has not sustained significant damage and minor issues have been repaired
  • A large number of trees blew down at MP 8.5. These were cleared by late Tuesday to help get some people out that were stuck behind them. The water was at least a foot deep over the road and running with a strong current when the river crested at ~9pm Tuesday.
  • At Champion Beach (~MP 4.5) mud and boulders are threatening to come down onto the road surface. The road closure has been extended to allow the contractor to stabilize this area.
    20151114StabilizingRoadCut

    Stabilizing the road cut by Champion Beach

  • Many trees were blown down between the Taylor “Y” and the Dingford Trailhead, some up to 3 feet in diameter. By Wednesday, November 18 these were cut out enough to let a vehicle pass although there are a few spots that require a high clearance vehicle and the road is in general rocky and full of potholes and downed limbs. Pickups and high clearance jeeps should not have trouble. A Subaru Forester made it through both with a lot of rock scraping underneath, especially at Oil Pan Creek.
    1. MP 14.5 – A small creek by a multi-trunked alder is not too hard to cross.
      20151125MultiTrunkAlderCreek

      Minor creek crossing by a multi-trunk alder

    2. MP 14.9 – The Garfield wash (aka Moore property) has a deeper gully on the near side. Pick your route carefully to minimize scraping.
      20151125GarfieldWash

      Garfield wash with a significantly deeper channel

    3. MP 15 – Oil Pan Creek is just beyond the Garfield wash and has a large new washout with steep banks up to two feet high. A ramp has been constructed on the right. This is the most difficult spot before reaching the Dingford trailhead.
      20151118PostStormClearing21

      Washout at Oil Pan Creek. Photo by Dick Craig.

  • The spur to the Taylor River trailhead is heavily eroded in three places and is not driveable even with high clearance vehicles. Park just beyond the bridge to hike in this area and walk the additional half mile to the trailhead.
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    A two foot deep channel has been scoured out of the Taylor River road just beyond the Dingford road turnoff

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    The Taylor River first crossed the road here during the 10/31 storm, but the more severe 11/17 storm deepened the channels significantly

  • The Mailbox trail is a mess with lots of trees down. The old trail is blocked ~200 yards up from the kiosk. DNR is working in the Mailbox parking lot clearing trees that fell across the road.
  • There is a large amount of blow down on the Granite Lakes trail. The lower part of the trail is bad enough, but still passable. However, beyond the bridge about 3.5 miles in it is nearly impenetrable; a group of very hardy trail runners were turned back on December 5.
    20151209GraniteCreekBlowdown

    Blowdown on the lower Granite Creek trail

    20151205GraniteCreekBlowdown

    Massive blowdown on the Granite Creek trail beyond the bridge. “There are 100+ blowdowns in the 1/4-mile past the bridge and the 100 yards ahead we could see when we stopped appeared to be more of the same.” Photo by Kevin Smythe.

On November 18, the day after the storm, the first team of volunteers began the hard work of clearing the blowdown beyond the Dingford road turnoff as far as the Dingford Creek trailhead. Nearly 80 trees needed to be cut. The chainsaw work is hazardous on trees like this, many of which are under extreme stresses. Once the trees are on the ground and limbed, it is surprisingly hard work to toss all the limbs and debris off the road and roll or tip the sections of trunk far enough to be out of the way. Kudos to the many hours spent by these folks, which relieves the short-staffed Forest Service of having to schedule time for road work here.

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Trees down at the bottom of the switchback on the road to Dingford Creek trailhead. Photo by Dick Craig.

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Partially cleared blowdown on the road to the Dingford Creek trailhead. Photo by Dick Craig.


On November 25, a second team continued to clear the road beyond the Dingford gate.
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Blowdown between Dingford Creek and Goldmyer

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Successful clearing of several fallen trees

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Clearing is not all hard work — it can be beautiful along the road as here a little before the Dingford trailhead with the sunlight streaming through mists.


On December 1, a third team of volunteers went in to clear an additional thirty trees on the gated road between Dingford and Goldmyer, now with a light covering of snow from recent cold and rainy days.
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More clearing on December 1 near Goldmyer. Photo by Dick Craig.

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Cleared cluster of downed trees. Photo by Dick Craig.


Downstream the combined flow of the three Snoqualmie River flows exceeded the Phase 4 flood level of 38,000 cfs.
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Combined Snoqualmie River flow crests


Related News

  • 11/16/2015 Seattle Times – 65-mph wind gusts, falling trees, full rivers, mountain snow
  • 11/17/2015 National Weather Service – Flood and Wind Warning “The storm currently impacting the western Washington is delivering heavy rain over the mountains with snow levels above 7000 feet. This will drive the area rivers like the Elwha and Snoqualmie Rivers above flood stage.” and “Wind … south or southwest 25 to 40 mph with gusts near 60 mph are expected.”
  • 11/18/2015 Seattle Times – 2 killed, thousands without power as winds hit Washington state

    Wind travels across Lake Washington, buffeting the 520 floating bridge as the storm grows in strength. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

  • 11/19/2015 Save Snoqualmie Falls – A beautiful close up video of the falls at high water, although not at the peak flow of this event.

DNR expands NRCA near Mailbox trailhead

An earlier post described potential parking problems across the road from the Mailbox Peak trailhead shortly after a new trailhead was constructed. Today, the DNR announced that they had successfully negotiated a purchase of the five parcels of land including the disputed parking pullout and other parcels surrounding Valley Camp. While there have not been problems reporting by hikers parking in the pullout north of the road the “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs were unnerving. This pullout provides overflow parking when the lot up the hill is full or for hikers who get a late start and might get down after the gate is locked.

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Property purchased by Trust for Public Land that will extend the boundaries of the Mailbox Peak NRCA when transferred to the DNR

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Mailbox Peak overflow parking on north side of road

According to county records, the property was purchased in August, 2015 by the Trust for Public Lands for $1.4 million. The deal was delayed for years because the seller was not satisfied with the amount being offered by the DNR, saying that it was substantially less than the assessed value he was taxed on — $1.643 million for 2015. The title is expected to be transferred to the DNR in January, 2016 but King County will retain the development rights. It’s good news that the parties were able to come to an agreement as the seller recently cleared old logging roads on the property so potential private buyers could inspect the parcels for sale. This is also good news for Valley Camp which will continue to be surrounded by undeveloped property.

The announcement states that the DNR and others are “exploring options for the property, possibly by restoring roads and access points remaining from timber harvesting as the basis for establishing ADA-friendly trails. This purchase also enables DNR to provide better access and amenities for those coming to hike Mailbox Peak.” It may take a while to realize those ambitions, but the area is already worth a side trip as part of a visit to Mailbox Peak. Most of the old logging roads in the lower areas are excellent for walking with one leading to an old yarding area known as Greg’s Valley View Point. There are no detailed maps of this area so navigational aids such as a GPS are recommended. Please respect Valley Camp’s property and exit via the Mailbox trailhead road.

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Spring growth on lower Grouse Ridge road

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Greg’s Valley View Point

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Some of the old logging roads climbing Grouse Ridge could be easily converted to hiking trails


Related News

Halloween High Water

A heavy rain storm on Halloween weekend that dropped 4 1/4 inches of rain over 2 days resulted in a peak flow of 22,400 cfps on the Middle Fork river. The rain was steady without a heavy downpour at any one time and there was no snow to melt in the mountains, factors which helped avoid major damage to the road. But flows of ~20,000 cfps were sustained for 5 hours. The Taylor river was especially wild — a log jam formed just above the turn off to Dingford Creek and caused part of the river to flow over the spur to the Taylor River trailhead. Later reports indicate that SUV style vehicles should still be able to negotiate the trench eroded across the road (see the last photo below).
20151031TANW1Graph


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The Taylor River overflowed it’s banks and ran across the spur road to the trailhead in two places.

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Gateway Bridge still safely above the water

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The log jam at the top of the picture restricted the flow of the Taylor River causing water to flow across the road

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The log jam is at the left of this picture in front of the tree island. The tree with the huge root ball on the right came down the river while I was standing here.

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A creek flowing down an unusual spot along the road to the Dingford Creek trailhead. Normally this water would come down the drainage in the background.

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Dingford Creek falls from the bridge. The spray was so intense it was impossible to get a clear shot.

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Compare to flow level in late summer

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Taylor River trailhead washout on November 1 after the high water receded. Photo by Bill Davis.

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