New Wildfire Closes Trails, Highway 2
The Chiwaukum Creek fire near Lake Wenatchee and Coles Corner has closed a section of Highway 2, as well as the Tumwater Campground and trails in the area.
ROADS UPDATE 7.18.14, 8:00am
Highway 2 is now open between Stevens Pass and Coles Corner, allowing access to Lake Wenatchee and points west of the closure. The stretch of road through Tumwater Canyon to Leavenworth is still closed. Travelers can still access Leavenworth via Blewett Pass and Highway 97.
Puget Sound area travelers should note multiple closures on I-90. Westbound traffic through Bellevue will be restricted to one lane from 9:30 Friday evening for approximately a week. There is also still weekday construction on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass.
The Carlton Complex of fires pose a series of complications from Mazama to Twisp. The fire jumped Highway 20 near Twisp on Thursday, cutting power off to Winthrop, in addition to these communities. Highway 20 is now closed between milepost 206 and milepost 215. Hwy 153 is closed at milespost 6-21. Due to the changing fire situation, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest has closed the Middle Fork Ridge #418, Foggy Dew #417, Martin Creek #429, Eagle Lake #431 and Crater Creek #416 trails.
Hot weather, thunderstorms and wind have ignited and flamed fires on the east slope of the Cascades this week. In addition to the Mill Creek fire that has closed all access to the Entiat area, a new fire near Lake Wenatchee is prompting closures, evacuations and serious concern.
Chiwaukum Creek Fire closes roads, trails and forces evacuations
The Chiwaukum Creek fire started Tuesday and has grown quickly to more than 6,630 acres. On Wednesday, transportation officials closed Highway 2 from milepost 64 at Stevens Pass all the way to milepost 99 at Leavenworth. SR 207 and the Chumstick highway are closed to all but local traffic.
The fire is burning close to the highway near Coles Corner and threatens 860 homes in the area. At this writing, it is zero percent contained and the weather on Thursday is expected to favor fire growth.
Consider alternative hiking and camping plans
As this is a dynamic situation, hikers with weekend plans in the area should make alternative arrangements. Tumwater Campground is under evacuation orders. And on Wednesday, Wenatchee River Ranger District trail crews swept the Chiwaukum Creek Trail (#1571) and Trail #1584 to Lake Ethel, Lake Julius, Loch Eileen and Lake Donald for hikers. These should be considered closed until further notice.
It is unclear at this time whether people will be able to travel to Lake Wenatchee from the west side of the pass this weekend.
Those who are planning to hike in the Enchantments and Icicle Creek area may encounter smoke but no closures. Unless the closure of Highway 2 is lifted, travelers should use Highway 97 over Blewett Pass to reach Leavenworth.
Other fires impacting hikers
The largest wildfire in the state, the Mills Canyon and Kelly Mountain fires, are getting contained, but trails (or roads to trails) are still closed in the Entiat Mountains, including Keystone Ridge, Lower Mad River Valley and Silver Falls and Larch Lakes.
If you are planning a trip to the Entiat, monitor the situation closely and check conditions before you leave. Also note that Highway 97A between Entiat River Road and Wenatchee remains closed.
The Carlton Complex consists of four fires in the Methow Valley which started Monday from lightning strikes. This fire is also growing quickly and is worth noting if traveling to the area.
The Lone Mountain Fire is burning in the North Cascades National Park approximately five miles northwest of Stehekin, Washington in the Boulder Creek drainage. For safety, park officials have closed the Boulder Creek Trail from Hooter Camp to War Creek Pass.
Tip: If you ever have a question about hiking in a region with an active wildfire, contact or visit a ranger station.
WTA Recommends: No backcountry campfires
The hot, dry weather is also prompting campfire restrictions in many areas around the state. These restrictions are being expanded daily. To be perfectly safe:
- Backpacking: WTA recommends that all backpackers refrain from making campfires until fire season has passed.
- Car Camping: please check with a campground host before lighting a campfire, as some counties and forests are expanding their bans to campgrounds as well.