Monday, January 3, 2011

Help Clear the Way to the Ptarmigan Traverse!

Hikers and climbers who complete the North Cascades’ Ptarmigan Traverse return home with memories of alpine meadows, colossal glaciers, rugged peaks, and a treacherous slog through the Bachelor Creek trail, the southern approach route from Downey Creek and the Suiattle River Road. If you have ever traveled the Ptarmigan Traverse, or if the route is on your bucket list, your support is needed to add the abandoned Bachelor Creek trail to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Trail System so that the trail can receive well-overdue maintenance.

The Bachelor Creek trail was originally constructed in the 1930’s for response to a wildfire. Although the primitive trail was dropped from Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest’s official inventory after 1990, Bachelor Creek remained an important route for those accessing the Ptarmigan Traverse as well as anglers hiking to alpine lakes in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Slide alder and downed trees mangle the route, but until the trail is officially added back to the National Forest’s trail inventory, the Bachelor Creek trail cannot legally receive attention by eager volunteer trail crews.

The Mountaineers encourages hikers and climbers to submit comments in support of designating the Bachelor Creek trail as a Class 1 Wilderness Trail. Comments in support of the trail will be considered until January 30th, 2011, during the public comment period for the Suiattle Access and Travel Management Plan. Comments may be directed to Peter Forbes, Darrington District Ranger of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, at Use the template below or write your own original letter. With your help, we can reclaim the Bachelor Creek trail and make the entire Ptarmigan Traverse something to look forward to!

Template Letter

Peter Forbes

Darrington District Ranger

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

1405 Emens Street

Darrington, WA 98241-9502

Dear Peter,

I am writing in response to the Suiattle Access and Travel Management Plan. Please consider adding the Bachelor Creek Trail to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Trail System as a Class 1 Wilderness trail. The Bachelor Creek Trail is a critical link from the Downey Creek Trail and the Suiattle River Road to the Ptarmigan Traverse, a nationally-recognized crown jewel of the North Cascades.

The Bachelor Creek Trail is notoriously overgrown but still remains a vital access route to the Glacier Peak Wilderness and the Ptarmigan Traverse. Please add the Bachelor Creek Trail back into the National Forest Trail System with a Class 1 Wilderness Designation so that the trail can be legally cleared of downed logs and overgrown brush.

Thank you,



Anonymous said...

I can't find reference to Bachelor Creek trail on the EA posted on MBS's website. Can you tell me what chapter or page it's located on? I thought the Travel Management Plan is for roads.

Kim B.

Sarah said...

Hello Kim,

Thanks for the good clarifying question.

The Bachelor Creek trail is not included in the scope of the Suiattle Travel Management EA. However, we received guidance from the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie NF that the EA comment period was the appropriate time to request designation of the Bachelor Creek trail.

Rest assured, your input will be considered. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sarah! I have never heard of a Class 1 Wilderness trail before - that plus the reference to the Travel Management Plan made me wonder if someone slipped something in my coffee and made me dumb.

I know they did a lot of work on Downey Creek right after the 2006 floods, and I think a little bit of Bachelor Creek was worked on at that time, but the concentration was Downey.

Thanks for the clarification. It'll be nice once the road is opened late next summer (barring further floods).


Sarah said...

The "Class 1" refers to the Forest Service's system of classifying trails. Class 1 is minimally developed and Class 5 is a fully developed, wide trail often hardened with asphalt. So in the spectrum of options, Class 1 is simple and will remain fairly rugged - with the major difference of allowing clearing of the onerous brush and downed trees.

Hope this helps, thanks for your questions!

Anonymous said...

I think the Bachelor Creek trail should be left alone. The Ptarmigan Traverse is a wilderness route and gets plenty of travelers as it is. Let,s keep something wild and worth the little extra work getting in to.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what anonymous said. There is plenty of traffic out there as it is without this trail. I am all for keeping trails maintained and what not, but when an area gets enough traffic as it is there is no need to make it more accessible in my opinion.

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Anonymous said...

i have walked the bachelor creek trail 5 times over the past couple of years. clearing a few logs and a little brush would be more than welcome. there is no way that doing a little trail work will change this area's basic wilderness character, it will only make this section of the ptarmigan less onerous.

i am glad to see mounties doing this!
this type of stewardship is more than welcome.