Naches Wagon Road of 1853

Greenwater, Washington

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1 Review
3 out of 5
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.
Roads to Trails Northwest Washington

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Roads to Trails Northwest Washington

by Washington Trails Association (The Mountaineers Books)

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.

©  Washington Trails Association/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Greenwater
Distance: 10
Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Season: Best spring to fall
Trailhead Elevation: 2,480 feet
Top Elevation: 4,800 feet
Local Contacts: White River Ranger District, Mount Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest
Local Maps: Green Trails #239 Lester; White River Ranger District
Driving Directions: Directions to Naches Wagon Road of 1853

Recent Trail Reviews

7/5/2006
0

Road/trail is off limits to ORVs from November 15 to July 15. It was a very pleasant walk through many meadows with views of Mt. Rainier. The meadows are home to many elk and smelled of recent grazing, but we were too late in the morning to see the elk. PCT was a fun part of the hike, but ran into snow fields about a mile out. Would recommend hiking before the ORVs take over.



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Apr 2018