Little Naches closed through Memorial Day

YAKIMA -- For many families, Memorial Day weekend annually means a camping trip to the Little Naches.

Not this year.

The Little Naches -- a popular recreation destination of campgrounds, dispersed camping areas and countless trail systems in and around the Little Naches River drainage north of Highway 410, about 25 miles east of Chinook Pass -- will be closed to motorized entry through Memorial Day weekend and perhaps longer.

The Naches Ranger Station announced the closure Wednesday after determining all the downed trees, wet trails and late snow could be hazardous to visitors. And motorized visitors, meanwhile, could damage all those wet trails.

"We suspect the downed-tree problem is pretty widespread," District Ranger Randy Shepard said, noting that much of the damage came when a January thaw was followed by a significant windstorm.

A member of a Yakima motorcycle club whose volunteers cleared about two miles on the Parallel (941) and Fife's Ridge (954) trails last weekend in the Little Naches can attest to the damage.

"It's messy. It's just downed tree after tree after tree," said Doug Huff of the Dust Dodgers club. "And it's not just small trees -- it's big trees and small trees, entangled messes. It's too wet to be up there. There's more snow up there than I thought there'd be."

The closure area begins at the intersection of Forest Road 1900 (Little Naches Road) and 1902 (Crow Creek). The Little Naches and Kaner Flat campgrounds, with 58 campsites between them, will be open, as will the Kaner Flat reservation site.

But that's it. Everything basically west and north of the Milk Creek (1708) road, north of Highhway 410 and east of the Norse Peak Wilderness will be closed to motorized use until further notice.

"It's going to impact a lot of people," Huff said. "On Memorial weekend, generally that place is packed out.