Since most of what I needed to do at home required me to have dry weather to work on, I decided to take a ride to the forest lands above Wilkeson, Washington. Luckily for me, from my front door to the gravel forest roads of the Wilkeson Tree Farm (owned by Plum Creek) is exactly 20 miles. The drive time, depending on traffic will vary from 30-60 minutes. My goal was to explore Forest Service (FS) Road 7720. It had been a few years since my last visit to the area.
I started out from downtown Wilkeson, Washington and turned on Railroad Ave and drove past the historic Wilkeson School (the oldest operating elementary school building in Washington state), past the old Coke Ovens and the Wilkeson Sandstone Quarry and then turned up the hill near the entrance of the Sunset Lake Camp. None of the roads in this area have signs. The only road that shows on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest map is FS 7720. My GPS initially listed this road as the South Prairie Creek Road.
Once I climbed out of the valley, there is a section of the road that is the haul road for another quarry further up the road. After a short distance, there is a fork in the road, with the quarry road to the left (very obvious) and FS 7710 to the right. In a short distance I turned left on FS 7720 and followed it up the South Prairie Creek valley.
It wasn’t too long after this that my GPS showed no roads. So with no map or GPS showing the roads, I began to explore the area. I decided to drive up to roads end and work my way back down as time allowed. I climbed for a while when I came to a junction with two well used roads. First I chose the road to the right which dead ended in about two miles. Some great views through the mist. Probably better on a clear day. So I backtracked down to the last junction.
Next, I followed the road to the left. From what I could tell from the forest service map and the geography, this road was FS 7720. From this junction, the road was overgrown with alder trees in sections, steep, rocky and rutted in others. A high clearance vehicle would be recommended to travel this area of road. After passing multiple forks in the road, while staying to the left, I eventually came to an overlook into the valley and Cedar Lake. A nice mountain lake downhill from my vantage point. There appears to be a road within a relatively short distance from the lake’s outlet (it would still require a hike through the brush), but from where I was standing and without a map, I couldn’t tell you how to get to the road.
While looking at the forest service map, I noted that there was a trailhead for Trail 1178 at the end of the road (only a short distance further). Once I got home and started writing this trip report, I found out that this was the Clearwater Trail #1178. After some photos of Cedar Lake and driving to the end of the road, I turned around and started heading down for further explorations.
Some of the spur roads I explored dead ended rather quickly, some were very overgrown with alder trees. Limb risers on my Land Cruiser would have been nice, or just simply turning around as what I had to do on FS 7724 because it was too overgrown.
Because of time limitations and a storm blowing in with visibility dropping to about 50 yards, I opted to head home for the day around 3:00 PM. I made note of some of the other roads I needed to explore on a future trip to the Wilkeson Tree Farm.
You can view all of the photos from this trip at Wilkeson Forest Roads.