Trips & Trails: Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, Section 1 – Oregon to Packwood

Photo By: Backcountry Discovery Routes
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We’ve covered the entirety of the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (WABDR) before, but since this track is so epic, it warrants breaking it down into sections to show the depth and breadth of what you’ll experience on trail. Section 1 is not at all difficult and can be completed by any high-clearance overland rig or adventure motorcycle.

The southern boundary of Section 1 of the WABDR is Bridge of the Gods, a toll bridge that spans the mighty Columbia River from Oregon into Washington, just west of the town of Stevenson, where you’ll want to gas up and replenish supplies.

From Stevenson, you’ll head out northeast over Triangle Pass and Trail Peak on dirt and gravel logging roads through Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the Cascade Range. These roads are in heavy use by logging trucks and you will experience two-way traffic, so be on the lookout and be ready to pull over for large trucks.

READ MORE: Trips & Trails: Movie Road, Alabama Hills

Along the track, you’ll catch views of massive Pacific Northwest volcanoes, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, as you make your way through varied terrain on the dirt track including pine forests, rocky sections, creeks, and alpine lakes.

The route continues over Trout Lake Creek, Grand Meadows, Takh-Takh Meadows, where you should stop at Takhlakh Lake to grab a great view of Mt. Adams from across the water.

You’ll continue on through the Cascade Range skirting the Pacific Crest Trail (where we found a spectacular campsite) and after a long descent, you’ll end up on Highway 12 in Packwood, Washington – where you can replenish supplies, grab a bite to eat, get fuel, and get some lodging for a night.

If you go, please be aware that there is no garbage service on this track, so pack out what you pack in. You can find garbage and toilets at organized campsites or in town. Leave no trace!


Time: 9+ hours

Distance: 120 miles

Fuel: Gas is available in Stevenson and Packwood. Even if you fill up there, it’s advisable to bring supplementary fuel along just in case.

Water: Plan for one gallon of water per person per day. More if you visit during the summer months.

Permits: Permits are not required

Other considerations: It is advisable to check in with the National Forest Service to find out about road conditions. Check with Mt. Adams Ranger District (509) 395-3402 for more information.

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