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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

America's Newest Wilderness

A quick guide to the best acres, trails, and views.

by: Charlie Wood

Spring Basin Wilderness (Doug Steakley)
Spring Basin Wilderness (Doug Steakley)
Rocky Mountain (Jim Davis/Onda.org)
Rocky Mountain (Jim Davis/Onda.org)
Washington County (Jim Dohms)
Washington County (Jim Dohms)

So much backcountry, so little time. That's how any self-respecting backpacker should translate the blandly named Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009–a blockbuster conservation bill passed in March. The legislation protects more than 2 million acres of backcountry, designating 77 new wilderness areas and additions in nine states. The best way to celebrate this landmark victory? Go explore these pristine landscapes. Here's our short list of the most exciting wildland wins from the Appalachians to the Sierra.

Oregon

Copper Salmon Wilderness
Land protected 13,700 acres, including the headwaters of the Elk River, the state's most productive salmon fishery Natural wonder 300-foot-tall Douglas firs
Champion Oregon Wild (oregonwild.org)
See it now From the end of FR 220, ridge-walk one mile on the Barklow Mountain Trail to an old firetower with views of 3,000-foot Copper and Salmon Mountains.
Info: fs.fed.us/r6/rogue-siskiyou

Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness
Land protected 124,000 acres in nine parcels spread throughout the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood
Natural wonder Highest concentration of waterfalls in the country
Champion Oregon Wild (oregonwild.org)
See it now Take the Salmon Butte Summit Trail on an 8.4-mile out-and-back through Douglas fir and rhododendrons to a 360-degree view of five volcanic peaks and the new wildernesses skirting Mt. Hood.
Info: fs.fed.us/r6/mthood

Spring Basin Wilderness
Land protected 6,382 acres in the John Day River Watershed
Natural wonder Pink-flowering Oregon barrel cactus
Champion Oregon Natural Desert Association (onda.org)
See it now From the BLM kiosk on Clarno Road, hike north .5 mile through bunchgrass and flowers. Go left at the fork to access tight, trailless Spring Basin Canyon.
Info: blm.gov/or/districts/prineville

Oregon Badlands Wilderness
Land protected 29,301 acres of high desert terrain in central Oregon
Natural wonder Oregon's oldest tree: a 1,600-year-old Western juniper
Champion Oregon Natural Desert Association (onda.org)
See it now Take OR 20 16 miles east from Bend to the Flatiron Rock Trail. This easy five-mile loop weaves through 100-year-old junipers and much older lava formations, like the black and chunky Flatiron Rock at mile 2.5.
Info: blm.gov/or/districts/prineville

Cascade-Siskiyou Resolution
Land protected 24,100-acre Soda Mountain Wilderness in Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Natural wonder 5,908-foot Pilot Rock, a volcanic basalt pinnacle
Champion Oregon Wild (oregonwild.org)
See it now From Pilot Rock Road, hop on an 8.5-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail that tracks through Soda Mountain's southeast corner past the towering Pilot Rock.
Info: blm.gov/or/districts/medford




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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Joel Hauschild
Apr 05, 2012

Calypso Cascades

The RMNP trail does go by falls and follows a mountain stream. But there are no lakes between the trail head and the cascades. You have to hike another 2-4 miles before you will see a lake. It is a high traffic wilderness area. Nothing like the other parts in the park.

Not true
Apr 05, 2012

Not true rather

Not true
Apr 05, 2012

At least not in Idaho/Utah, wilderness does mean all roads closed, and Zero motorized vehicles,period. Been air traffic is restricted. You hardly see anyone a couple miles in, and 20 miles in, forget it, it's wild life. Absolutely true for national parks though, as they make it easy for campers and such.

wayne gould
Apr 05, 2012

The best way to protect wildlife habitat is to close all roads and re-plant them. Once it is deemed a wilderness area it is sure to have excessive human visitation.

wayne gould
Apr 05, 2012

The best way to protect wildlife habitat is to close all roads and re-plant them. Once it is deemed a wilderness area it is sure to have excessive human visitation.

Anonymous
Feb 24, 2011

One of the surest ways I know to increase people in an area is to designate it 'wilderness.'

Doug Welker
Feb 24, 2011

The correct link for the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition is www.wvwild.org, NOT www.wvwild.com.

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