Dark Divide Roadless Area

MapTech: Go to>Place Finder: Dark Mountain

Resources: SCSO, EMS: SCEMS, Primary SAR: VRT, Alternate SAR: Wind River SAR

Notes: 60,000 acres, T. 8-11 N, R 7-9 E. Less than 6 miles east of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and bordering the western portion of the Mt. Adams Wilderness lies a roadless complex known as the Dark Divide. Over 100 miles of trails currently exist in the Dark Divide.

Dark Divide Map

Area Road Map (pdf)

Boundary Trail #1

Length: 32.4 miles

Elevation: Elevation ranges from 3600 to 4600 feet above sea level

Special Conditions: Steep, with exposures near Shark Rock.

Description: The Boundary Trail once formed the boundary between the Columbia and Rainier National Forests. Now it marks the southern boundary of the Randle District. This was an important trail in the early history of the Forest Service it was the principal route used by rangers on horseback patrols. The trail was well established by 1911. It is now a National Recreation Trail, offering a backpacking opportunity or shorter hikes from various access points.

North End

Accessed from the north ends of the 23 and 25 Roads.

South End

The 90 Road defines the southern boundary of the roadless area, with access to Trails #5, #2 and #18.

Trail #5 follows the Quartz Creek ravine, while Trail #2 follows the Quartz Creek Ridge.

Note: Maps show Trail #5B connecting Trail #5 and #2 - this trail is abandoned, and difficult (if not impossible) to follow through very steep country.

The 93, 9025, 9085, 9091 and 585 Roads provide access to the southern parts of the roadless area off the 90 Road.

West End

Open to hikers only, takes you through parts of the Mount St. Helens NVM. The section of trail from Norway Pass to Elk Pass begins at the Norway Pass Trailhead on Road 26. The trail winds in and out of blown down forests.

A short spur takes you to the shore of Ghost Lake at mile 2. The trail continues to the junction with Strawberry Mountain Trail# 220 near Bear Meadow. The section of trail east of Bear Meadow is open to hikers, horses, motorcycles and bicycles.

From Bear Meadow to Elk Pass (4.5 miles), the trail is on a timbered, broad ridge, with occasional views of St. Helens. The section from elk Pass to the jct. with #292 is 2.5 miles.

Badger Lake is approximately 4.1 miles from Elk Pass, Kirk Rock is 4.4 mile, Shark Rock is 5.4 miles and Craggy Peak is 6 miles. The Trail crosses Road 29 then continues on to Dark Meadows (2.5 miles from Road 29), to the junction with Trail #5, to Summit Prairie (5.5 miles) and on to Table Mtn (7.9 miles). The trail continues another 1.5 miles to Council Lake.

Along its length, this trail offers views of St. Helens, Rainier, Adams and a few glimpses of Hood. This area was glaciated repeatedly during the Ice Age. The marks of the glaciers' passage can be seen in the knifelike ridges and cirque basins all along the trail.

East End

The 23 Road defines the eastern edge of the roadless area, near the Takhalak and Council Lakes areas. The Boundary Trail #1 terminates at Council Lakes.

LZ: A meadow east of the 23 Road at Baby Shoe Pass (T10 N, 9E, Sec 18) has accomodated a BlackHawk helicopter.

Note: The 2334 Road to Council Lake deteriorates significantly as is heads Northwest past the lake.