For the first time in five months both Canyon Creek (FSR 31) and Glacier Creek (FSR 39) roads on the north end of the Mount Baker Ranger District are open for motor vehicle traffic.
Closed for more than 18 months after a January 2011 storm caused a washout at milepost 1.7, Canyon Creek Road reopened today following an extensive rebuilding project that involved the use of a specialized engineering fix with soil nails. A plugged stream culvert caused the washout.
Canyon Creek Road links to additional spur roads including West Church Road (FSR 3120), Canyon Ridge Road (FSR 3140), Whistle Creek Road (FSR 3060) and Bearpaw Road (FSR 3170) and accesses the Canyon Ridge, Boundary Way and Damfino trails, plus user-built paths to Church and Bearpaw lakes.
Glacier Creek Road sustained damage May 12, 2013 when a spring storm started a slide below the road that eventually undermined it. The same engineered fix to rebuild a platform for the road was used at its damage site.
Glacier Creek Road links to spur roads including Thompson Creek (FSR 3910), Smith Basin (FSR 3940), Grouse Butte (FSR 36), Lookout Mountain (FSR 3610), Rocky Creek (FSR 3620) and Elkhorn (FSR 3630) roads. The main northwest side climbing route on Mount Baker including access to Coleman Glacier via Heliotrope Ridge Trail is accessed by Glacier Creek Road.
Both these routes enter national forest areas popular for summer recreation and they also serve as the only two road-based groomed trail systems open for snowmobiling during the winter months in the Nooksack Basin.
The repairs were paid for with federal Title II Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (RAC) funds since FEMA or Federal High Administration funds are not normally made available to repair national forest roads.
In other forest road news, Wells Creek Road (FSR 33) closed at the milepost 0.6 gate for the season just above the Nooksack Falls parking area, which will still be accessible by car.
North Fork Nooksack Road (FSR 34) is blocked by a large blowdown tree at milepost 0.35. This one-mile long route accesses the Nooksack Cirque trailhead at Ruth Creek.
As soon as sufficient snow falls, FSRs 32 (Hannegan), 3070 (Razorhone), 3071 (Anderson Creek) and 3075 (White Salmon) will close to motor vehicle traffic and transition to winter snowshoe and cross-country ski use.
The Mount Baker Highway section up from Heather Meadows to Austin Pass and Artist Point is closed for the season as well.