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Outside » Outside Features

Central Cascades Wilderness Limited Entry System Delayed

Visitors to popular trailheads in Central Oregon won't have to get permits this year after all, due to COVID-19


On May 22, the Central Cascades Wilderness limited entry system was supposed to go into effect. But due to setbacks from COVID-19, local officials from the U.S. Forest Service announced that the new permit system will be pushed back until May next year.

The new system was set to bring day-use limitations to 19 trails in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness and other overnight limitations to all trails in the same areas. The prices for these permits were free for day-use permits at the 19-elected popular trails, and $6 for overnight permits at all 79 trailheads.

The South Sister reflected in the waters of Sparks Lake in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. - USGS/CASCADES VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
  • USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory
  • The South Sister reflected in the waters of Sparks Lake in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.
"Our focus has  been responding to COVID-19, and preparations for the permit system were delayed," Willamette National Forest Supervisor Dave Warnack said in a press release."We felt there was too much uncertainty for the public on when we might open the reservation system. Therefore, we made this difficult decision."

One way this might affect hikers in these areas is that once reservations are available and trails begin to open up in the forests, they might be more crowded than ever as people rush to get back doing what they enjoy. And other forest-users who weren't thrilled about the new system will get another year of the usual. As far as reservations and permits go, wilderness areas will continue to be managed as they had been in previous years until of May of 2021. Both the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests will keep the free self-issue permit systems many people have become accustomed to when using trails.

The Forest Service did announce that at least one new law will be implemented this year though, which is the elevational campfire ban. This ban prevents people from setting campfires above 5,700 feet in elevation and some areas that are below 5,700 feet. It also prohibits campfires in Diamond Peak Wilderness above 6,000 feet. 

About The Author

Isaac Biehl

Isaac is living proof that "Iowa Nice" is actually a thing. A journalism graduate from Iowa State University, he regularly writes about music, the outdoors and the arts/culture scene. Isaac loves the Trail Blazers, backpacking and a good IPA. He plans to one day win Survivor. Your move, Jeff Probst...

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