Friday, August 21, 2015

Westside Road

Update.-- The NPS announced today they re-opened the Westside road. It will be open until the seasonal closing date, usually some time in October.

If you haven't heard or read the news, the Westside Road, which starts about a mile past the Nisqually entrance in the southwest corner of the NP. It's usually the place I start in the spring with each hiking season while it's still closed as it's a nice 3.5 mile (one way) hike to get the legs back and focus on the scenery (mostly forest and Tahoma Creek with just few places to see Mt Rainier).

On August 13th a J√∂kulhlaup (glacial outburst flood) from Tahoma glacier flowed down Tahoma Creek, and while it hasn't been reported that it damaged the Westside Road, the NPS closed the road for safety reasons as any additional outburt flood could easily damage the road and trap hikers parked at the Fish Creek trailhead.

There is no announcements from the NP when the road will reopen, but with the extended warm weather, often a major contributing factor creating the circumstances for the floods, the road could be closed for some time, which closes each fall, usually in October.

I'll try to watch the NP news to see if/when they reopen the road as it provides the only trailhead to the southwest area of the NP without using the longer Kautz Creek trail to the Tahoma Creek suspension bridge to the upper part of the Westside Road around Emerald Ridge.

There is a shorter trail from the bridge via the old (non-addvertised) Tahoma Creek trail, used by backcountry rangers, but more than likely that trail, which hugs the side of the valley in the upper Tahoma Creek basin, may have been damaged beyond repair to use.

Anyway, if/when I get news of changes, I'll update this information.

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