This should be the most famous road-to-trail in the country. Unfortunately, the wagon tracks have been ground away by thousands of off-road vehicles. In 1853, the first train of thirty-six wagons crossed the Cascade Mountains on an old Indian path. From Yakima, they went over Naches Pass and down into the Greenwater River watershed. Making the foot and horse trail wide enough for the wagons was bad enough, but on the west side there was “The Cliff”—a drop of over 800 feet in a little over 1/2 mile.
Using rope and leather straps, one by one each wagon was lowered. On the west side they found the Greenwater valley a jungle of giant trees and brush. Only one other wagon train followed, and, except for farmers driving cattle to west-side markets, the route was abandoned until 1910, when the government reopened the road for a horse patrol. In 1953, to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the first crossing, a radio personality organized a group of jeep riders to widen the path and cross the pass. The publicity opened a floodgate, and ever since then it has been a popular off-road vehicle spot that has destroyed most of the evidence of the first crossing, and deeply eroded the track.
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