Snowpack Down; Snowmobiling Still Popular In NCW Forest
Snowpack in the Cascades is below normal this winter, but levels are still deep enough to allow for snowmobiling in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest.
Forest service spokesperson Robin DeMario says anyone on a snowmobile is going to have a wide option of trails to choose from.
"There are lots and lots, there's miles and miles of groomed snowmobiling and cross-country skiing trails in the national forest," said DeMario.
There's an expansive network of groomed trails in the Chelan, Entiat and Lake Wenatchee ranger districts not far from Wenatchee.
Anyone wanting more information about the trails can go to the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest website or tie-in with ski clubs or snowmobile clubs.
“People, if they want to follow local snowmobile information, for example up in the Lake Wenatchee area, the Lake Wenatchee Rec Club Facebook page, they also post all the grooming that they get done,” DeMario said.
One byproduct of the El Niño winter is the consistency of the snow in the national forest, as it’s currently a wet concrete-like snow.
DeMario says it’s important to remember that not all trails are groomed all the time.
Snowmobile routes are not groomed when avalanche danger is present.
For example, the 2B route to Trinity on thehas some hazardous avalanche areas. Grooming does not occur there when avalanche danger is moderate to high.
The policy is in place for the safety of the groomers and snowmobilers. Grooming resumes once avalanche danger diminishes.
DeMario says snowmobilers riding into the backcountry need to be able to determine avalanche terrain.
It's advised that riders carry avalanche rescue equipment—beacons, probe poles and shovels—and be sure that all members of their party know how to use that equipment and practice with beacons before heading to the backcountry
Beginner snowmobilers may want to stick to groomed routes and utilize the knowledge and skills of someone who has experience.
DeMario says it's also important to remember that snowmobiles are prohibited in Wilderness areas. It's been a federal law since the 1960's.
Anyone who does not know or isn't sure of wilderness boundaries should stop by the nearest Forest Service office to obtain a map.
There are eight wilderness areas in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest.
Northern part of Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest:
- Alpine Lakes Wilderness
- Glacier Peak Wilderness
- Henry M. Jackson Wilderness
- Pasayten Wilderness
- Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness
Southern part of Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest:
- Goat Rocks Wilderness
- Norse Peak Wilderness
- William O. Douglas Wilderness