Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Forest Service Replaces Big Four Ice Caves Bridge

AAI just received the following email from Mount Baker-Snoqulamie National Forest:

Hikers hoping to trek the popular Ice Caves Trail and visitors wanting to enjoy the Big Four Picnic Area will not have to wait much longer. Construction of a new trail bridge over the Stillaguamish River is underway. The trail has been closed since November 2006 floods washed the bridge out.

Heavy construction will keep the picnic area and trail closed until the project is finished. "During construction, the area won’t be safe for anyone,” said Peter Forbes, Darrington District Ranger. Even with signs posted and gates closed, as many as 125 people a day have been parking on the Mountain Loop Highway, walking around the gates and the closure signs to get to the trail. Those continuing to ignore the closures signs and enter the area may be ticketed and fined, Forbes said. The area includes the Ice Caves and Big Four parking lots and 300 feet from the trail.

The current closure won’t last long, “We are hoping to have the bridge done and the trail open by early July," he said.

The Ice Caves Trail is a heavily used, barrier-free trail on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, designated as a National Recreation Trail. It crosses the South Fork Stillaguamish River about one-third mile from the trailhead and continues beyond the river for three-quarters of a mile to the base of Big Four Mountain, where the ice caves form. The Ice Caves Picnic Area and Trail are located about 25 miles east of Granite Falls along the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway. Funding for the repairs is from the Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration under the Emergency Relief to Federally Owned Roads program.

Unfortunately, the upper end of the trail received additional damage by heavy snow and avalanches during the winters of 2007 and 2008. More work is planned to complete repairs on the besieged trail later this year. For more information about roads and trail closures, go to alerts and conditions on <> .

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